In many ways the desire to do what we know is harmful is so completely human, normal and instinctual.  We see it, we crave it.  Our very existence is detrimental to the earth we inhabit. And while this self-deprecating side of humanity seems questionable as we live life to it's fullest, individuals are also drawn to the natural currents of our society.

Post-it, tweet it or share it and you have believers

A post that says something is bad for us goes viral and society latches on.  Forget the data, the science or the facts.  Watch what others do, share or say and do the same. 

We won't quit until they tell us to quit

A classic example is smoking.  The less people smoke, the less we want to smoke. Sometimes, like smoking, it's obvious our society is right to move away from such a self-damaging behavior.  But, what of the replacements.  Vaping? Nicotine gum or over-eating?  Should we watch our social media accounts for advice before we quit?

The same holds true for much of the cravings our society has denounced.  Whether it be whole grains instead of refined carbs, sunblock instead of tanning accelerator or online shopping instead of shopping at a mall, we gravitate towards the influence of our peers, but not necessarily because it is the right thing to do. In a fast-paced, socially networked society, information at our fingertips provides instant access to tending news (real and fake) about issues related to health, to career, to politics. 

Knowing what's real and what's fake is much harder to tell the difference than choosing your next loaf of bread (whole grains are one color and white white, btw), easy

Besides social trends, who else should decide our fate?

Life.  Living.  Choices.  The right to destroy ours - improve, learn and control.  The ultimate of our human rights is the right to extend or damage our own destiny.  Our autonomy provides us the basic fundamentals that include everything.  We are not restricted by laws, we are only liable to the consequences of violating them.  The same holds true for the consequences of any of our choices.  

Philosophical mumbo jumbo

Philosophical perspective has a wide range here.  Philosopher, Jean Paul Satre, said it best, " Man is condemned to be free, because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does." 

We bask in the condemnation of our own humanity, by which, we likely may die, one day.  In doing so, we should realize our greatest human freedom is the right to make the mistakes of our lifetime, as well as, to revel in the success of our destiny.  This individual freedom results in consequences that only society and our individual future bare the burden.

This leaves us wondering then, if society (lead by social influencers and media) should affect the individual for the betterment of society?  Should our individual fate be at the mercy of tweets, memes and posts.  Have we gone mad?  

But will federal regulations and government recommendations better to lead our society into tomorrow?  Perhaps, but it seems as though society may be trending towards Paris Hilton and Kylie Jenner to provide the path to a better future!  What!?

Like moths to a flame

Despite retraction over the years of all things that are terrible for us, these cravings for "life as we would live it" still sell movies, tv shows, videos, music and products.  Future be damned and "The Fast and the Furious" be strong...and fast..and furious.  And yet, somehow, we seem to evolve as a society. 

We are living longer, eating better and finding healthy alternatives.  Could our social dynamic "follower" syndrome actually be an effective way to drive us towards the right things?  Maybe.

Maybe not. 

While we seem to achieve greater awareness now that we are so socially connected by platform, devices and networks, our society still falls for those same ol' social exploits taking them towards obvious bad choices: opioid addictions, sedentary behavior and violence in schools.  We are told these things are bad, awful and terrible and yet the problem seems to continue to grow. These socially charged problems are fueled by our common paths.  We see it.  We crave it.  

What it takes to change our minds.

The war on smoking quickly evolved through a legal frontline with the establishment of age restrictions and restricted accessibility of smoking areas in the workplace, at bars and restaurants.  In other words, it became inconvenient to socially smoke or get cigarettes, so people quit. 

The less exposed the general public was to cigarettes, the more smoking became taboo.  Soon, the desire to do something clearly bad for us was suddenly obviously terrible.  Did we really need law suits, warnings and restrictions to cease such a bad habit?  Does anyone else feel dumb?foot-in-mouth

Not you?  I think so.

Perhaps you sit smugly as a non-smoker.  But, you too are guilty.  Something out there, something you do is obviously wrong, but somehow you can't change it without a social correction that tells you, "Wake up!" this isn't right. 

This is a fact because, while I don't know you personally, the overall problem isn't personal, it's a social problem.  One that will not change overnight.

Is this day smaller than your vices?

Ask yourself with all that you crave, what drives you to do so?  

  • Is it socially encouraged, sexy, accepted? 
  • Do you feel stronger, smarter, in more control? 
  • Do you diminish the bad and exploit the good of your habits? 
  • Does it help you forget about your problems?
  • Perhaps you just consider today as a small, insignificant day and you think today's choices, overall, will not affect the greater extent of your life, existence, your family, your future, the earth? 

Today is just one day of so many.  This is true.  Like you are just one person of so many.  While society and your lifetime may seemingly devalue your right and power to think for yourself, you should maintain the value of each and everyday and your rights as an individual to take personal accountability for your choices, just as society should value each and every one of it's members.  

Do you give others the power over you?

Is what you crave so powerful over you as an individual that you need laws, administrations, restrictions, posts, tweets and memes to stop you?  Do you subscribe to a subordinate role, expecting your fate to be governed and guarded by the responsibility of others?  In doing so, you give up control to more than your vices, but to the society you allow to judge you.

The sweet case of denial

I can't tell you if it is worth it to give-in to the things we crave that are harmful, popular and obviously told to avoid.  We all have trade-offs. 

For me, I think mine is that in my optimism and good old fashioned, stupidity, shines bright with the old adage, "It won't happen to me.", and sometimes, when I am a little more honest, "I'll deal with it when it becomes a problem".  (If that's really honest, I'm not really sure, but it sure eases my social conscious).

We can hardly know what these lies we tell ourselves will actually take us toward.  But, then, we always have autonomy and in that, we have the real freedom to live by the death that chases us and die by the life we chose to live.  It's a life fast as the social connections can guide us and furious as the harmful vices that control us.

How about a little bad with a lot of good?

For cravings, vices and addictions that may be harmful in large quantities or over long periods of time, I subscribe to the DMK Wellness motto of 80/20. A little bad goes a long way to appreciate all the good and "vice" versa (pun intended).

Not only do you see a greater benefit to the good things in your life when you allow a little bad to infiltrate your camp from time-to-time, but your appreciate the bad a lot more when you refrain from overindulging.


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