Some fake youth trends and moral panics (keep on eating gummi bears)

Do you remember slimming, gummi bears soaked in vodka and i-dosing? What do they all have in common? They are youth trends who were spread in the media as a new concerning trend among youngsters and who stirred some panic. Maybe we would better label them as ‘moral panics’.

What is a moral panic? Let’s ask wikipedia:

moral panic is the intensity of feeling expressed in a population about an issue that appears to threaten the social order. According to Stanley Cohen, author of Folk Devils and Moral Panics (1972) and credited as creator of the term, a moral panic occurs when “[a] condition, episode, person or group of persons emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests.” Those who start the panic when they fear a threat to prevailing social or cultural values are known by researchers as “moral entrepreneurs,” while people who supposedly threaten the social order have been described as “folk devils.”

Btw, do read his book ! It can help to understand what’s happening, instead of writing articles like this (ok, I admit this is one of the most panicing articles I’ve ever read).

Yes, in most of the cases there are some kids who tried it, probably, but a trend… Let’s debunk some of those fake trends:

  • Slimming:
    ABC 15 in Phoenix revealed that teens are getting sneaky about their alcohol consumption. Namely, they’re “snorting vodka shots,” “doing anal beer bongs and soaking tampons in vodka.” You know, “for quicker absorption.” Gawker loved it. But the Phoenix New Times finally injected a dose of reason into the discussion: ‘[T]here’s just no way more than a few dumbasses are doing those things. If a teen has vodka, it’s safe to say that the teen is going to drink it, not soak a tampon in it or snort it. Same with beer.” (source)
  • Gummi bears soaked in vodka, the Atlantic Wire wrote this about it:
    ‘The Drudge Report linked to a Washington D.C. radio station’s report that teens have found an alarming new way to ingest their alcohol: sweet, innocent gummy bears. The station, WTOP reports:
    Leave it to teenagers to take something as wholesome as gummy bears and turn it into booze-soaked mischief. Using online tutorials, some teens are soaking the candy in vodka for several days and eating it to get a buzz. It’s a big trend in California and so popular that one police department has posted a warning on its Facebook page.

    Indeed several local TV and radio stations across the country have picked up the story, almost all of them citing the same local police department’s Facebook page. WTOP doesn’t quote, even anonymously, a teenager who soaks his gummies in alcohol, nor do they show any statistics on arrests or school discipline that would establish this trend to be widespread or even prevalent outside the one offending locality. Nevertheless, local media never gets tired of discovering a new (often cringe-inducing) tactic that a group of teenagers has discovered to help them ingest alcohol and alarming parents with reports on the “trend”.”

  • I-dosing became known through this video:

    But do read what Gizmodo wrote about it.
    In fact that summer, when I asked my students who tried it, 5 out of 100 did… after reading about it in the newspapers.

Oh, and they keep on coming. So if you hear about Banga-lists (online lists of ehm, easy girls, who became a panic in Holland), Teenage werewolves, rainbow parties,.. do have serious doubts!

Oh and by the way Facebook makes you drink and eating ice cream results in polio. (NOT!)

If you have some more examples, do add them in the comment section!

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Filed under Myths, Youngsters

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