Humans have been doing things that cause our own demises for centuries. Most of the time it’s for social conformity. Peer pressure. Ideas of normality. Current fashion. Often it involves self-mutilation; binding our feet, stretching our ears, wearing hats made with poisonous mercury, or face powders containing lead. All these things were normal at one point in history, and horrible for our health. Yet we’re currently not any better. We’re still doing things that are horrible for us, but are socially considered ‘normal’. We consume high fructose corn syrup, fatty oils, alcohol, tobacco. We give ourselves diseases by participating in these popular trends: heart disease, liver disease, diabetes, cancer. We are continually pressured to eat ‘normal’ food, wear ‘normal’ clothing, live in ‘normal’ domiciles, and participate in ‘normal’ social occasions. Simply because these things are culturally popular right now.
Current trends continue to be popular regardless of their hazards. Phones are popular, even though they cause a lot of accidents. Fatty food are popular, even though heart disease is the # 1 killer of Americans. Everyone owns a car, even though 40,000+ people died in traffic accidents in 2016. We can’t seem to stop participating because they’ve become embedded into our culture.
Certain popular things change how we interact with each other. The youth generation is heavily invested with online social media, as a means of sharing every event in their lives. Last month, a woman accidentally shot and killed her friend as part of a video challenge, to see if an encyclopedia would stop a bullet. People have always desired having a community and a sense of belonging, and in the digital era, that community is online. These people were drawn to participate in these risky activities because that’s what their community exists around. There’s a 50day challenge game in Russia that has caused 130+ deaths. Every day it sends out a task, and the last challenge instructs the participants to kill themselves. At the moment in history, it is also normal to live stream videos of all events, including tragedies. Last week, a group a teenagers were on trial for videotaping a man drowning, instead of helping him. This week, an 18-yr old live posts a video immediately following a car crash that killed her 14-yr old sister, instead of helping.
What this means is that individuals would rather share an existing event, than try to effect change in the world around them. Our social culture is so obsessed with our digital footprint, that our online life means more to us than our real life.