Note: my about page says I'm a coder and a ranter. The previous post was code, so this is a long boring rant. If you do read it, please read the whole thing before commenting, and if commenting, comment in the language of the post.
How do you feel about anabolic steroids?
Every person has a maximum potential for X, where X can be anything from throwing a rock, to learning a language, to growing muscles to a certain size, to experiencing happiness, to navigational skills when in unfamiliar surroundings, and more.
When a bodybuilder works out, they continuously destroy and rebuild their muscles, in turn making them stronger, more flexible, and bigger. But there is a limit, a plateau. A phase where growth stops, and maintenance takes over - this is called the natural peak. It happens at a different stage for everyone, and varies depending on gender, race, age, metabolism, and more. To get through this, steroids are often used. In layman's terms, steroids artificially enhance a bodybuilder's potential for building muscle. This makes for almost instant progress, but has immense long term consequences, not the least of which is a near total or total degradation of all muscles built during steroid use. There's also stuff like damage to the endocrine system, testosterone imbalance, impotence, hair loss, etc. You can read more about the negative consequences here, but that's not what this post is about.
To sum up, steroids offer instant gratification of something that's mostly achievable anyway at the cost of immense negative long term consequences.
Just like when using steroids during body building or GPS when navigating, when taking recreational drugs, like MDMA for "happiness", ecstasy for energy, speed for energy and attention, DMT for "truth seeking", marijuana for relaxation, or anything similar, the potential for each experience is artificially enhanced.
Take, for example, MDMA - the trendy drug of choice among clubbers and electronic music "fans" (I'll explain the quotes below) - which is little more than ecstasy distilled and is generally taken as a de-inhibitor.
Basically, it turns a consumer's "no" and "maybe" into a "yes", whether that be a daring challenge like jumping naked into the water off a 30m cliff in total darkness, or sex, or taking heavier drugs. When mixed with alcohol, it results in a highly practical roofie-like effect, which is another reason why it's so popular.
When people take MDMA, they report feeling an incredible sense of happiness, love, and belonging, directed outward. It is, for all intents and purposes, a happiness pill. It increases one's potential to feel happiness.
So why is this bad (ignoring, of course, the neurotoxicity 1, 2)? Apart from the fact that people who take it usually don't know their own limits and go overboard, waking up in a stupor at a stranger's place with chewed up insides of their jaw?
Well, when you bump up your serotonin levels artificially to feel great NOW, you got there by cheating. It goes without saying then, that when that effect wears off, you'll feel the sudden decrease of insta-happiness and feel depressed - also known as "coming down". When you do this regularly, your brain gets used to the fact that it can only experience such happiness with these supplements, and as such, it feels unhappy when not on these drugs. In other words, you become addicted - not physically as is the case with drugs like speed, heroin, cocaine, or krokodil, though physical addiction is definitely possible when used often enough - but mentally. You become incapable of feeling happiness without drugs in your system, and you become a typical party zombie.
Observe these people for a minute. Notice their vacant stares. Look at their non-rhythmic movement, like zombies who stepped in bear traps. Each and every one of these is on some form of heavy drug. It can be meth, it can be speed, but most are on cocaine or MDMA/ecstasy, like the girls front and center. By the way, she has a pacifier because people on MDMA chew up the insides of their jaw because they can't control it - so they often carry pacifiers with them to chew on that instead.
As you get your brain used to this state, it'll feel less and less at home in a sober one. It's not a matter of being doped up more than sober - because that's not the case - it's a matter of the intensity of the non-sober state.
Fun, Happiness and Influence
Now, you might be thinking, why does this bother you, Bruno? Everyone has their own type of fun, you like board games and you code for fun, that's as weird as it gets! And, sure, that much is true. But there is a critical difference in how we experience happiness, and upbringing has a lot to do with it.
Image credit WaitButWhy
My Twitter rants might not show it because I like to act like a complainer, but I'm a generally a happy guy. I feel this happiness without pills. I feel it because I feel accomplished, because I have a long-term goal task list, and because I'm successfully getting through this list, year by year. Please don't get me wrong and say "but that's not true happiness, that's just being aware some people are worse off". It really isn't. I am genuinely proud of my own accomplishments, and there's not a day I feel "depressed" for no apparent reason.
Could I feel even happier if I took MDMA? Probably. Momentarily. But as soon as I came down, I would end up at a happiness level lower than the one I started at. This would make me feel bad, and I would probably need more.
Now, if you spend your formative years around people who either are or believe they are "messed up" due to their childhoods/lost loves/diseases, you absorb some of that thinking, and you fall under the influence of their preferences. If they've only known happiness through pills, they'll teach you that it's the only way to experience it. During high school and college, this is most effective - dominant personalities will take over a group's identity, and modify everyone else to fit.
As men tend to want to "lead", and women like "leaders" and "rebels" (hence the infatuation with people who are "anti-establishment" (but curiously pro-"give me my unemployment check and healthcare"), and band members who keep dreaming of making it big, but then get wasted on the weekend), the character-bending most often happens to females. This doesn't mean men don't consume as many drugs as females do - it just means women are more prone to being talked into taking them.
Image hilariously stolen from here
Someone who is otherwise a brilliant straight-A student or a methodic, diligent worker will devolve into an animalistic, almost sheepish state around those people. She'll be eager to prove her independence by, ironically, imitating those who taught her the dislikable behavior and doing everything they want her to do, especially if it conflicts with the desires of someone she (consciously or not) considers an authority figure, like a father, an older brother, or a boyfriend.
Your "little princess", in effect, devolves into the easily entertained simpleton who can be seen in the video above.
Still, why does this bother me you may be wondering.
I don't feel the same about all drugs. Medical drugs that actually help with something are a necessity, even if they do have addictive qualities. Marijuana should be legal in my opinion, if only for the reason that it makes people smoke less poisonous cigarettes. I don't like it, I think it makes people very stupid and I find it difficult to communicate with them when they're so numb and fascinated by trivial nonsense, but I can't think of a reason for it being illegal - if anything, alcohol should be banned over marijuana.
I also don't have anything strictly against trying something new like MDMA just for the experience, once or twice in a lifetime, as opposed to every weekend / festival - experiences matter, and one cannot judge something they haven't truly experienced.
My problem with drugs is that I don't like people who take shortcuts. I don't like people who are incapable of handling their own lives. I don't like it when the drug and laziness culture of today turns women into whores and men into women; when generations of adult children are being bred. I don't like people without ambition who can't stop complaining about their lives being stuck in a rut and the "world" treating them unfairly, when they don't want to lift a finger to help themselves, but will gladly lift a finger towards their nose if there's drugs on the fingernail.
When I ask drug users whether they'd consider accepting the "Matrix scenario" - a state of hibernation in which their body is put in stasis, but their mind is fed pleasant "happy life" dreams, ALL of them say "No, my god, what kind of life would that be?!". Yet the irony of taking drugs that simulate happiness over the real thing completely escapes them.
To the frequent drug users out there...
What kind of life is that when you live through your workdays miserable, only to wait for the weekend? To feed a person who is effectively not you but an alter ego, only to forget everything that happened come Sunday night and start the cycle again on a new depressing Monday? How can you live life knowing you hate your job, and be so uninterested in improving the situation? Do you not know how much one can learn in a single weekend spent learning rather than being hungover?
What can you say about your taste in music or friends, when you cannot enjoy the presence of either without artificial stimulus? And what kind of company do you keep, when the only thing you can talk about when you're not on drugs or drunk is either past of future consumption of increasingly more powerful neurotoxins?
How did it come to this where you are okay with being a 30+ year old child? What will you do when your parents'/significant others' funds dry up and you can no longer buy drugs, but can't get any for free either because you're no longer that hot?
"But I'm living in the moment", you'll often say as a drug user. Are you, though? Is that moment worth living if you can't remember it afterwards? "I'd rather regret the things I did, than those I didn't do", goes a famous cliché, trite spouted by those needing justification for their wasted lives. If you think ahead for just one year, you'd be amazed at how good life can get on its own. But you consistently refuse to give it a chance, and keep aiming for the golden age of mental and physical dilapidation during which you'll finally be able to spout meaningless bile like "No one ever remembers the good night of sleep they got when staying in."
Well guess what: we do. And after a bit of effort invested in one's own life, waking up after that night is oh so much sweeter than anything you've ever artificially experienced.