A Black Mirror on Technology

“Digital technology has made us antisocial.” Beneath those words lay an image of several people within a room. Their necks tilted down, their heads drawn to something in their hands as they keep to themselves. Upon closer inspection, it’s clear that they are all gripped by their phones. We’ve all seen that image. An unshakable feeling of skepticism, fear, and paranoia about the advancement of digital technology has driven plenty of criticism recently. Doubts about their unreliability, lack of security, and proneness to error have been at the forefront of debates concerning the future. Even at social level, technology has been the subject of negative rumours. Allegations of its ability to decrease intelligence, seed unemployment, and pardon laziness often frequent the public sphere. Such fear of technology has been a recurring theme for quite a while. The dystopian genre in movies and TV shows is particularly compelling to the mass market. The popular anthology series Black Mirror, for instance, is controversial and self-conscious for its bold, yet realistic depiction of possible futures where our society relies heavily on technology. Westworld explores the idea of artificial intelligence (AI) becoming self-aware by portraying an entire world constructed and maintained by technology for human entertainment. Even Wall-E, a movie targeted towards children, presents a world where technology exists purely to serve humans, who have degenerated into lazy, obese creatures. The sense of wariness concerning technological progress is, after all, not completely unfounded. The rise of the digital age was not without issues. When Edward Snowden risked his life to expose state secrets about how the NSA was illegally surveilling its own citizens, people were shocked - and rightly so. Cybercrime has continued to increase and even facilitate the flow of criminal acts such as corporate theft, child abuse, human trafficking, etc. Even mobile apps and social media have subjected individuals to discrimination and abuse. All of these phenomena have fed into the public’s increasing sense of paranoia and insecurity about technology, as the dystopian movies mentioned above have aptly shown. In spite of the drawbacks, however, technology holds a lot of potential for the future. There have been just as many, if not more, positive depictions of technology as negative ones on the big screen. Marvel’s Iron Man film series and BBC’s Doctor Who TV show are just a few of many well-known examples that present the positive potential of technology. Even though the setting of Wall-E presents how technology has gone awry, the film still demonstrates the extent to which technology exemplifies human achievements. The humans in Wall-E all live within a spaceship equivalent of a yacht that is self-sufficient and is a habitable home for humans (even though its inhabitants, the humans, have devolved into incapacitated creatures). In fact, the conflicts arising within the film plot are often simply caused by the human abuse of technological power or the lack of caution people have when designing their inventions. Black Mirror episodes are a particularly strong example of this, as they show the audience how people are always behind the horrors that occur due to technological use for invasive, illogical purposes. If arguing about the state of the future seems too full of uncertainty, then look at the present! Not only has new technology helped various fields of research in their search for knowledge, they have also made life easier for humans in general. Crowdsourcing, for example, is a beneficial Internet activity that facilitates the gathering and distribution of creative ideas and mass information. This information sourcing model has been proven as important to raise awareness during times of crises, as illustrated by Facebook’s "Crisis Response" hub. Websites such as Kickstarter and GoFundMe have also been crucial in helping to raise funds for personal or charitable causes. Even celebrities are now able to help their fans through the use of social media, as demonstrated by Kendrick Lamar providing a disabled fan with a wheelchair and a wheelchair-accessible van. Even professional researchers have taken advantage of crowdsourcing to further their research. Sarah Parcak, an American archaeologist, has used crowdsourcing to assist in her research and enabled ordinary citizens to look for signs of hidden archaeological sites. Another positive benefit brought by technology also includes the use of online media as a source of income. Nowadays, anyone can go on the Internet and earn money from their creative pursuits, which not only includes Youtubers and bloggers, but also authors, digital illustrators, artists, aspiring entrepreneurs, and more. The Internet has enabled a global distribution of information and a level of interconnectivity that allows anyone to learn about anything they want while creating employment opportunities unrestricted by location. Technological innovation has been the driving force of research in medical and astronomical fields, and technology previously used only in one area is now being developed for use in others. Artificial intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality (VR), for example, both started as the imaginations of the entertainment industry. Their functionality has now spread to assist with breakthroughs in the scientific, medical and educational industry. All of this is not to say that our fear and wariness of the digital era is unreasonable. There will always be risks and uncertainties associated with the future. Nevertheless, we cannot let it hinder our progress. Humans have survived so far in history by continually adapting to the circumstances and improving life for ourselves. Technology has been an enormous help for us in that respect, significantly speeding up academic, economic, social, and political progress to get us to where we are now. However there is still so much to be done, and technology remains an immense source of potential in helping us to overcome the unknown challenges we are bound to face. After all, if Black Mirror taught us anything, it’s that technology itself is not what’s bad; instead, it’s how we use it that matters.

Bad and Boujee

In a world where streetwear has become just as reputable as designer brands, the line between inspiration and cultural misrepresentation continues to blur. While the West has partaken in the subculture-no-more known as “street”, “Asian” street has become particularly influential. While street fashion itself isn’t evil, it's increasingly bourgeois -- or boujee in street slang -- industry has allowed the opportunity for bad companies to cultivate the practice of cultural misrepresentation, implicitly influencing youths to believe that it isn’t an issue. Born from the desire to differentiate from the older generation and to cultivate something that is solely theirs, the current generations of youths have created a culture of their own--an individuality that unfortunately comes at the cost of a people and their culture. Given the fact that Hypebeast, the leading digital curator of men's contemporary fashion and streetwear, is headquartered in Hong Kong, it isn’t particularly hard to understand why Asian aesthetics may dominate street fashion. However, in looking East, the world has often mistaken appropriation for appreciation. Asian -- particularly Japanese -- culture has been appropriated and misrepresented in order to create the ideal street aesthetic. Though it can be argued that both Western and Eastern brands engage in an equal partnership that continuously draws on one another, the West and the issue of cultural theft acts differently due to historical imperialism. This was from a time when their customs and cultures were introduced and implemented in a vast majority of the Eastern Hemisphere. Additionally, the way inspiration is drawn often resembles the reduction of cultures that are inherently not something to take, such as misused characters and stereotypical Japanese imagery. This is visible in both the smaller, more “authentic” street brands, as well as certain mainstream brands. SuperDry Japan -- a British brand -- adorns their clothing in meaningless phrases, translated from English using basic software like Google Translate, to appear authentic to its name. Even Asian-run brands like Sydney’s Nothing can fall to misrepresentation, evident in their use of Japanese imagery, characters, and the schoolgirl aesthetic on their Instagram. This is part of a trend where cultural images are glorified in a manner that is inconsiderate of its past. Yakuza art is utilized without any thought to the very real dangers it represents in Japan. The rising sun flag is scattered throughout magazines, advertisements, and clothes without understanding its offensive connotations in the rest of the Eastern Hemisphere. The list goes on, but the issue here lies not in the “appreciation” but in the cyclic perpetuation of certain Japanese stereotypes. Appropriation segregates the acceptance of other cultures. The parts that have been proven to be economically profitable are hailed as edgy, whereas the more real, imperative aspects of the Asian experience -- such as daily prejudice and government erasure of certain political issues -- are pushed aside and ignored. Though there are aspects to modern Japanese culture that are inherently problematic, its origins being wrong doesn’t make their misrepresentation right. The “Japanese” aesthetic is indeed intriguing as long as it is sourced from the right people, with the right values, knowledge, and understanding of what they’re doing while straying away from the bad and boujee. Street brands that are positively celebrating Japanese culture include Osaka’s Evisu with their use of traditional art and colouring, Shinsuke Takizawa’s NEIGHBOURHOOD, whose aesthetic described as “badass sophistication”, Tokyo-based Wacko Maria and their music-inspired pieces, and of course the original Japanese heavyweights Comme de Garcons, Yohji Yamamoto, Cav Empt, and BAPE. Cultural misrepresentation problematizes itself by being without respect and sensitivity for its aesthetic origins. It discredits its origins, where Western brands profit off of Japanese imagery and the Asian sweatshops the products are (most likely) made in. Moreover, it denies Japanese people the opportunity to represent themselves in the way they desire to the world. As someone who holds Asian-style Street near and dear because it is different and unique, there still comes a time where everyone needs to question what they’re paying for.  

13 Reasons Why: Is it a Perfect Portrayal of Teenager’s Issues or an Unrealistic Idea of Teenage Suicide?

You’ve probably already heard about the latest Netflix TV series called 13 Reasons Why, based on the fictional novel by Jay Asher. For those of you who haven’t watched it, 13 Reasons Why tells the story of a teenage girl’s suicide – a girl named Hannah Baker. She recorded tapes detailing the reasons behind her suicide and why she blames certain people for the decision to end her life. She then gets one of her friends, Tony, to pass these tapes on to every person who is mentioned in it, to ensure that they understand why she ended her own life. Don’t get me wrong, I get the whole idea of the series. They portray issues that adolescents face very well – issues such as bullying, gossiping, sexual assault, loneliness and the anxiety you experience from being at the centre of negative attention. In fact, 13 Reasons Why has been praised for its successful attempt to address diversity by starring multicultural actors and actresses, and by incorporating LGBTQ issues in their storyline. Bottom line is, the intention behind the series is very honourable and the message behind it is clear: be kind to others always because you never know what they have or are going through. You could save a life. No wonder viewers can relate to the series so much. It reminds us of those years filled with angst, innocence, and naivety; of all the struggles and fun we had in order to exist, survive, and hopefully grow to become fully-functioning adults. This reflection that I had after watching the whole series hit me with a realisation. What if the fifteen-year-old me was watching the series? What could I possibly be thinking? How would I feel after watching it? Imagine yourself in the shoes of a fifteen-year-old teenager who is going through a tough time in school. You are bullied; you feel trapped and lonely; you feel like you’ve tried everything you can to make it better, but nothing works. Then you watch the series, and suddenly the idea of suicide becomes a very real option. The series offers a common-sense approach to suicide. It gives you the impression that suicide is an opportunity to have the last laugh, which is unrealistic.   By deciding to commit suicide, you are choosing an end that is final. You don’t get a resolution after that, as the series suggested in some ways. After thinking about this, I realised that there are some dangerous flaws in the series. Regardless of its noble purpose, the series could send a completely different message to the teenagers watching the show because it offers the idea of suicide as a possible revenge fantasy. Hannah was bullied, assaulted, and lonely when she was alive, but she has a sudden grasp of power after her suicide. There’s almost this sense that the aftermath of suicide is romanticised in the series, which could give the wrong impression to the teenagers watching the show.   Not to mention the graphic detail of the suicide and sexual assault that are striking. I understand that this was done with the intention of making the audience feel uncomfortable because in reality, these things happen and they are horrible and tragic. Making these scenes as realistic as possible can move the audience emotionally and allow them to be more aware of the tragic nature of a suicide or sexual assault. However, once again, try to imagine watching these scenes through the eyes of a fifteen-year-old. For more vulnerable viewers, these scenes could leave them feeling distressed or even traumatised, especially for young viewers who are going through similar problems as Hannah. 13 Reasons Why is undeniably a heavy show. Parental guidance and age restrictions are definitely needed, even if they’ve already put trigger warnings in the beginning of each episode. Further discussions after watching the series should also be held by parents or guardians of its young and vulnerable viewers (for instance, those who suffer from depression or PTSD who can be triggered by the show’s content). I also think that the series lacks the insight to the importance of being alive, an important message of positivity for viewers who may be experiencing bullying or are having suicidal thoughts. Adolescence is a complex stage of life. It’s a transition from childhood to being an adult, so teenagers have to deal with a lot of new challenges and expectations from the people around them. They are expected to be independent and be responsible for their own actions, while at the same time having to obey their parents’ rules. Not to mention the fact that they’re on a mission to discover themselves, their identity, and their purpose in life. With many changes biologically and socially, this journey of finding themselves will not be easy. It will be an emotional rollercoaster ride with a lot of anger, confusion, anxiety, loneliness, misunderstanding – you name it. This could affect their behaviour to be more rebellious and dramatic. However, this is part of being an adolescent – part of the process of finding their place in the world. Understanding adolescents’ cognitive development is also essential. Their way of thinking begins to get more complex, developing from concrete thinking to abstract thinking. They begin to think systematically about logical reasoning, can form new ideas, and can consider different point of views. However, the transition occurs over time between 12 to 18 years of age. You can’t just expect them to develop the skill instantly. It requires a lot of process and practice. Ideally, teenagers should have access to lots of resources, such as education and forms of social support from family and friends to help them develop socially and cognitively. The resources would provide them with the knowledge and opportunity to discuss with those who are older regarding teenage issues. It would help them develop their problem-solving skill, critical thinking, and their decision-making process. They also need to have people who can provide them with emotional support when they fail or are having difficulties. This example is an ideal scenario for a teenager’s life, where they can have a space to grow with resources and support provided. Unfortunately, teenagers might not always have access to lots of resources, such as education, and emotional and social support which they desperately need from their family and peers. Let’s face it, the education system (especially in Indonesia) haven’t really taken into consideration the importance of mental health. Not to mention the parents’ need to understand these issues to guide their teenage children. As a result, many teenagers end up feeling lost and don’t know where to ask for such guidance, which could make them be more vulnerable to sensitive content like those shown in 13 Reasons Why. Given these points, regular, open discussions between teenagers and their parents (or other adults) regarding emotional and social issues that adolescents face are important. This helps to raise awareness of these issues, but also in addressing any confusion and improving their way of thinking. Teachers and parents especially also need to be able to support them emotionally and not underestimate their feelings, so that the school and home can be a safe space where they can grow and develop. Sometimes we forget what being a teenager is like. I can’t stress enough how important it is to show empathy towards youth. It’s easy for us to say, “Oh, come on, grow up!”. Well, they are growing up. At least they’re trying to be grown-ups. We just need to give them a chance.  

Online Dating

The dating landscape has drastically evolved over the decades. The ways of finding and expressing love have transformed – from sending love letters physically via paper, to electronic text messages, to now swiping left and right on an app on our phone. It is fairly strange that nowadays chatting and meeting up with strangers via the Internet is regarded as more socially acceptable than asking them out for a coffee while waiting for class in daylight. Internet has changed the rule of dating. For one, it has enlarged the size of dating pool. For those living in the past millennium, they would have had the help of parents and/or mutual friends to find dates if they hadn’t yet found “the one” after university. They were basically swimming in an indoor pool of friendship and familial acquaintances. It was very rare to meet someone outside this circle - although on some exceptional occasions, people did bump into their significant other on the street. But the chances for this romcom-inspired rendezvous are very low compared to having friends and family as the primary option to finding love. Those who are living in this millennium, however, have the luck to swim in the Pacific Ocean of dating pool. Online dating provides us with the chance to chat with strangers via our virtual profiles. We are no longer bound within our parents’ circle of acquaintances - we have more freedom and autonomy in our romantic lives. We could even select and filter the types of people we prefer to see online. In fact, most online dating apps automatically do this using their advanced algorithms as they obtain data from our, say, Facebook or Instagram profiles. They then try to match us with people with whom we share common interests so that we have topics for icebreakers! Online dating apps offer us a sense of “safety” and “confidence”. The virtual nature of the Internet does not demand physical connection - that is until we, or the other person, requests an actual encounter. This means that online daters can conceal themselves behind the screen, which hides their insecurity and boosts their confidence to chat with strangers. In any case, it feels safer to chat with strangers on the app rather than to directly converse with them in a bar. The virtual network and instantaneousness of online dating apps afford us that physical distance with the mentality of being “nearby”. However, the large dating pool online entails a higher chance that we will meet the “weirdos” of the world. This is because the epidemic accessibility of online dating apps means that everyone, including serial killer or rapist, can sign up for the service. Thus, the sense of “safety” offered by online dating apps may be deceptive, especially since 80% of online daters lie on their profiles. Although most deceits consist of only misrepresenting their height, weight or age, we absolutely have to keep a look out for ourselves when we meet strangers online. Online dating has also altered the meaning of dating. A few centuries ago, dating paved the way for reproduction and marriage. A few decades ago, the more progressive society rendered the goal of dating to find love. Now, the ease of finding (and tossing) love has eroded deep human connections. The liberty of swimming in the ocean has been misused to get casual sex with no strings attached, which generates the stigma of online dating apps as mere platforms for “hook-ups”. The provision of many fish in the sea means that monogamy and marriage are no longer the primary goal of dating. It is even safe to say that online dating apps assists the society in adopting a more liberal view of sex, which perhaps undermines the historic meaning of the intercourse altogether. The rampant availability of online dating apps has made the daters lazy and casual, and not only in a sex-related way. Our predecessors used to write love letters with poetic rhymes that require high level of intellect. Some of them had even written songs and played instruments for their beloved ones. Now? The online dating apps have eradicated the needs for those efforts, and if they get too clingy or fussy, we can just swipe them off and ditch them for the “many other fish”. The instantaneous swipe of left and right relies on our subconscious judgment, meaning that we won’t have to put a lot of thought into it. Online dating has revolutionised our efforts in our romantic lives, in a negative way (although granted, some online daters have the cheekiest and funniest pick-up lines I have ever heard in my entire life). Perhaps this is why people who seriously are trying to find “the one” prefer to stay away from online dating. However, one cannot simply defy the fact that online dating offers the possibility of removing the historic obstacles to true love. Distance, time and lack of mutual connections no longer hamper us from swimming in the ocean. There is a high chance that we might bump into some sharks, creeps and perverts on the online dating apps, but it should not deter us from trying to find love on the Internet altogether. It’s because there are some genuine people out there who might just be “the one”. And whilst we are young, what’s life without a little adventure and danger, eh?

The Misfits of Sensitivity

There are rising movements of student activism that discourages free opinions because it could be offensive. I recently shared a funny video on Facebook about a kid who sings about flirting with someone. I typed, “this girl is way cooler than me,” as the caption. A couple of minutes later, someone mentioned that the kid in the video was a boy. I replied with, “What about the hairpin then?” Someone then sends me a text explaining to me about how I shouldn’t have asked because hairpins aren’t just for girls. I could have explained to them that hairpins are marketed to females, and mostly females wore them. Sure, males can wear hairpins, but it should be understandable why I would think the kid was female. So I apologized and moved on, only to tilt my head back in surprise. An ordinary afternoon of fun became a lecture. Anyone who is active in Facebook or Twitter would see that their feed in 2015 and 2016 was highlighted by the presidential election between Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. There was another current, however; a river flowing right underneath the ocean. It started before the 21st century but has recently become popular in North America and continues to spread further over time. The Atlantic calls it, "The Coddling of the American Mind". The New Yorker deems it, "The Big Uneasy". It asks everyone to be politically correct, demands professors to put trigger warnings across their syllabus, and requests schools to make safe-spaces. Is it righteous to its cause? In 2014, several university student unions requested the school’s board members to officially implement "trigger warnings" before lectures. Trigger warnings are intended to warn students of "triggering" materials, or materials that have the potential to trigger an unwanted or traumatic memory and response. This allegedly arose after a student suffered a panic attack after watching a rape scene in class. Such warnings are sometimes beneficial to the well-being and growth of students, but its implementation has escalated quickly in recent times. Jeannie Suk once wrote in The New Yorker that some students pressured professors to avoid teaching rape law in a criminal law class. It’s like a person who wants to be a swimmer but won’t hold their breath after watching a guy drown in a movie. Is a pre-emptive warning important for the wellbeing of students? Seeing the number of teenage suicides in Australia supports this. The 2015 Orygen report states the young Australian suicide rate is the highest in 10 years. The mental health of millennials’ is a dangerous problem right now, thus any measures to prevent or to heal are brought to the table, but trigger warnings might not be the right answer. I spoke to my former lecturer, Rachel Wilson, who discourages censorship in academic spaces. “I've thought about this in detail. […] My main perspective is worrying about an intellectual dumbing down of university space. The university is one of the only spaces we have left, culturally, to explore and unpack difficult materials. The world is made up of difficult circumstances, and if we’re constantly are having to apologize that, then it makes having those conversations very, very difficult.” Wilson was particularly concerned for academics like herself. Giving warnings before a lecture was usually a choice, a strategy to teach. But now it is an obligation. “I do talk to students at certain times on certain contexts about the nature of this kind of material, and it is a fantastic topic to be having a conversation about. But I worry as an academic there would be an administrative that I and other lecturers would have to put in trigger warning that would actually result in a form of self-censorship,” she explained. Rather than engaging students in meaningful conversation, teachers would hold the materials out of fear of backlash. It seems to me that academics welcome arguments when a student brought it to their attention. Resolving an issue through conversation is refreshing and challenging. The problem is when students feel that they are obligated to find support in social media. In the digital world, words travel in the simple click of a “share” button, and there is power in the number of shares. More often than not, only one side of the story gained popularity and the other side of the story wouldn’t be given a chance. Like Black Mirror’s, “Hated in the Nation”, trending hashtags literally kills people. For students that felt attacked or denied, a safe-space can become a place for refuge. Filled with “coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh… and a video of frolicking puppies" Kathryn Byron explained that the safe-space is a place safe from "troubling" or "triggering" comments, where people won't have to worry about judgment or differing opinions. Unfortunately, as inclusive at they believe the place to be, safe spaces only promote exclusivity. Judith Shulevitz wrote in response to Byron in The New York Times “Once you designated some place as safe, you imply that the rest are unsafe". People with diverse opinions are not welcome. Safe spaces, Trigger warnings, and everything ‘aggressive’ has created social justice warriors, that not only force their opinion on others, but also condemns opinions that aren’t theirs. They gain power from the internet, where they can be anonymous anytime they want. Teachers, parents and students, all are entitled to express their opinion. However contrast that idea is to another, it cannot be hindered. Free speech is the base of democracy. It allows the people to have a voice. “Without contraries is no progression. Attraction and repulsion, reason and energy, love and hate, are necessary to human existence.” Such is the word of William Blake is his book, “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”. The 1984 Universal Declaration of Human Rights say “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression”. Arguments are hard. Having personal comments challenged by others may hurt feelings, but it is necessary to learn. Without free speech, oppression is inevitable. A diamond underwent hours of cutting and polishing to be valued more than it should have been. An eagle must break its own beak to grow a newer and stronger one. A human need to lose its milk teeth for the stronger, permanent ones to grow. Pain hurts. But the only response is to fight or fly from it. Indulge in opposing views as an opportunity to dive into intellectual conversation, and grow from it. Being sensitive is for the weak. As George Orwell says “The greatest enemy of clear language is insincerity”

The Drug(ged) Identity

As a young person living in the 21 st century, images and portrayals of drugs and their consumption can’t be escaped. Whether it’s shown on television, rhymed in rap songs, or blown up on billboards informing us of the dangers of drug addiction, it’s a common theme and topic of discussion in our youth. Drug use has always been a subculture, especially in relation to crime. Amongst the youth however, it seems that there is a “desubculturalization” on the use of drugs; it’s becoming increasingly normalized and perceived as an expression of the consumer-based, youth cultural lifestyle. If peer pressure was the culprit for drug use amongst youth in the past, the finger is now pointed at the normalization of it. So, what exactly is the normalization of drug use? Is drug use now seen as a “common thing” that young people experiment on and experience? Sure, but it’s also about how the use of drugs have shifted from the periphery to the centre of youth culture and the youth leisure landscape. This doesn’t necessarily mean that young people are taking drugs on a daily basis (remember that there is a distinction between using drugs recreationally and being addicted to them), but that many social events and gatherings are associated with the consumption of drugs and, from it, the creation of social bonds. Exploring this social aspect of drug consumption can yield a better understanding of why it’s becoming normalized, as for many young people, the use of drugs is heavily tied to social reasons. Drug use becomes a site where the creation and recreation of youth identities, both cultural and personal, are formed, and where social ties are built and strengthened. If the stereotypical perception of drug use is associated with nightclubs and rave parties, the time and place in which young people engage in this activity are now more varied and flexible. It could be a Wednesday night and a group of friends are hanging out while drinking some alcohol and smoking some cannabis. At a dodgy and cheap hostel, a group of backpackers could be sharing a joint while bonding over the experiences they’ve gained from their trip. At a music festival, the use of drugs doesn’t just add to the bodily and psychological pleasure of the music, but ties together the whole social experience of the event. It can be said that young people engaging in drugs gain certain cultural capitals that are valued within their social circles. Namely, a shared identity and a sense of belonging with groups of other young people participating in the same activities they do. This is significant for the youth, whose exploration and commitments to personal and social identities play a crucial part in their adolescence. Seen from this perspective, consuming drugs is tied to a sense of purpose. This purpose builds into not only one’s sense of belonging, but also their sense of empowerment and maturation. Despite being told otherwise and being aware of the risks, choosing to still engage in this activity can symbolize taking control of one’s life and making a decision: a marker of adulthood. While drug use does lead to negative consequences at times (even destructive ones), its consumption from the perspective of an age-related activity that’s aimed at identity exploration and social belonging can be perceived in a positive light. It’s not that it’s necessarily wrong or bad, as there are positive sides to many things. Even so, should this normalization be dismissed as just something that young people do? It’s important to recognize that young people do find social benefits from drug use, one that grants them a sense of belonging, of being a part of a community who share similar leisure interests. However, care should be given when drawing the line between acknowledging these benefits, and condoning the activity. Interestingly though, the average use of illicit drugs amongst youth in the world has either declined or stabilized in the past decade, which goes against with what we would expect with this normalization of drug use, in that consumption levels will increase. However, this perhaps points to the fact that this phenomena isn’t necessarily in terms of numbers and statistics, but in terms of the way we now perceive the use of drugs. Personally, I see drug use as something that young people would try at least once in their lives. Whether that’s out of curiosity, fun, or for the sake of participating in that friendship-group spirit. Maybe this is the way you and many others perceive it, too. It would be simplistic to say that the reason why drug use is becoming more normalized is because young people are able to explore their identity and find a sense of belonging in social activities related to drugs. It could however, play a role. Acknowledging that there is a process of desubculturalization regarding the use of drugs, and that there is a strong social aspect to it is important. It allows us to understand drug use from the perspective of the youth, and where it is positioned right now at the youth leisure landscape.