"To all my straightedge followers
I used to be straightedge when I was younger, but then stopped in my second year of university (last year). I’ve never been a huge fan of drugs or alcohol and so my consumption of both is infrequent and moderate.
A fellow vegan friend and I were talking about edge politics, and wondering what the value would be in me returning to that lifestyle, or in him taking it up, considering that neither of us live in communities afflicted by alcoholism, and neither of us is an addict.
I felt that being straightedge had more relevance when I was in high school and there was a lot of pressure on kids to drink and smoke. I felt like it was a necessary polemical position to take in resisting social oppression. But now, I no longer feel this pressure, so I wonder to what end my sobriety would serve.
I am keen to hear the thoughts of anyone with an opinion, but I hope the conversation (if I’m lucky enough for one to be generated) can stay respectful.
<3 to everyone”
I’m also vegan, and I neither use alcohol nor drugs of any kind (I don’t even drink coffee, nor tea).
I can’t say that much of anything justifies brain-damage; if I’m going into a malaria-ridden part of the world, and I know that an anti-malarial drug causes brain-damage, I would refuse the drug, and instead risk getting malaria (yes, that’s a choice I had to deal with, at one stage). However, malaria resistance is a real benefit; getting drunk or stoned isn’t.
The unexamined life isn’t worth living. One of the relatively gradual aspects of growing up is separating what’s meaningful in your life from what’s meaningless; for me, all of the distractions of alcohol-use (etc.) fall entirely on the meaningless side of that division. As such, they’re both meaningless and harmful. So, for me, it’s an easy decision.
A lot of people have already put too many years into drugs and alcohol, so that quitting entails that they (suddenly) won’t have any friends. It isn’t just that they won’t have anyone to sing Karaoke with: they’ve never built up the confidence to do normal things (like singing Karaoke) while sober.
That’s a struggle. However, if you look at the process and the end-product, it’s much more of a worthwhile struggle than the other path.
- Almost any post using the phrase “The unexamined life is not worth living” deserves a reblog.
- I’ve given a lot of thought regarding the value of potentially “mindless” entertainment, such as drugs, video games, television, etc.
I never bothered much with drugs—my unhealthy obsession was video games. As a teenager, I’d spend a good 20-40 hours a week watching television, playing videogames, etc. Even as an adult, I’ve had month-long stretches of loosing 20-30 hours a week on games, internet, and television. I wonder how much of that time was wasted absorbing the stories of others, when I could have been living my own.
What role should entertainment play in our lives?
When you think of it, base pleasures are fleeting, contributing nothing to a more fulfilled life. But there are forms of entertainment that do more than merely give momentary pleasure. There are ways to be happy in the moment, AND add lasting value to your life.
Chatting with friends brings happiness while reinforcing social ties. Watching or reading intellectually-challenging material provides entertainment while expanding one’s mind. So does a challenging hobby, or traveling to do new things. That’s why even amidst the diffculties of college, I set aside time for traveling, and studying botany.
Using this same metric of fleeting vs fulfilling to decide what worthwhile entertainment is, it’s clear that most recreational drug use just isn’t helpful. It exchanges money, long-term health, and current mindfulness for momentary pleasure. I’ve seen too many people do that with large chunks of their lives.
For me, avoiding mindless entertainment isn’t about purity or avoiding addiction. It’s about the economics of the finite time I have to live a fulfilling life.
Wow. Can’t believe people replied and I didn’t see. Ok, well having perused, here are my responses. Thanks guys.
To vegan mind-tricks first.
Firstly, I followed the link you sent me about alcohol and brain damage and was disappointed. The link only showed me that alcohol abuse leads to brain damage. So, I think it’s a bit of an over-statement to claim, as an extrapolation from the sources you have offered, that each and every serving of alcohol causes brain-damage. I have found absolutely no evidence from reputable sources to indicate otherwise.
Again, the evidence regarding infrequent marijuana usage is inconclusive and controversial. Most evidence of serious harms relate to use by adolescents and pregnant women.
Regarding your comment that nothing justifies brain damage, that is an undefended claim. If you mean that in terms of your personal preferences, then I’m happy to leave you to that. But if that is the case you have provided me with no reason to avoid it myself. Why is the risk of brain damage, even if exceedingly low, of such absolute importance?
The unexamined life, I would agree is less worthwhile. However, again the fact that drug (incl. alcohol) use is meaningless to you, gives no objectively good reason for anyone else not to partake in moderate consumption, especially as I have shown that your argument about harms is less strong than you presented it to be.
You end saying that giving up alcohol is worthwhile even if it means social isolation etc. Now that might be the case for some people, but again you have provided me with no objectively compelling argument. Instead it relies upon various contingencies.
I think that phrase has become a cliché for wannabe philosophers who like watching Žižek clips on youtube. Or worse, people who quote Socrates acontextually.
Alright, so again, I find your opening statement to be of a personal nature as opposed to offering anything compelling on an objective, or more generalizable level. Some might enjoy videogames and not find it meaningless, unhealthy, or problematic in any other way. Something becoming an obsession or addiction is by definition problematic, so let’s avoid those terms unless necessary.
Moving on to your discussion of pleasure. It sounds like you are trying, as many have, to offer some definition of objective value, which for you would be things that “add lasting value to your life” as opposed to just making you happy in the moment.
But why the dichotomy? Can’t both be valuable and be appropriate at various times? Even if you reject this possibility, your criteria does not necessarily exclude alcohol, drugs, and video games from the good life.
Your list of meaningful activities is subjective. I have had conversations with friends that have meant nothing to me in the long term. I have struggled through intellectually challenging material like Kant and felt nothing. What I’m trying to say is that, whilst these things can have extensive and lasting value, this is not always the case. What is the difference between getting involved in a book’s narrative and getting involved in a video game’s narrative?
Also, I’ve had some lastingly meaningful experiences whilst high. Drinking moderately with friends and family is pleasurable, and fun. Again, some of my fondest memories include it. I’m not going to tell you about how incredible music sounds when you get high. It doesn’t matter whether I persuade you or not at this point, unless you can persuade me that these pleasures are necessarily problematic.