Friday, October 12, 2012

If Everyone Jumped Off a Cliff...

You know the scenario. You want new sneakers, a new Playstation, to attend a party and you're not getting anywhere with your parents. As the likelihood of persuading them diminishes you reach deep into your bag of tricks for the hackneyed and rarely successful line, "But EVERYONE will wear it, have it, or be there!"

At this point your parents respond with the equally overused, but almost always successful line, "If EVERYONE jumped off a cliff, would you jump too?" That's it. Conversation over. You're destined to another week of social ostracism until the next must have/do comes along.

Apparently the allure of lemmings is incredibly hard to resist. I came across this excellent BBC article summarising Tyler Hamilton's book The Secret Race which details allegations of Lance Armstrong's PED use.  Other riders on the US Postal team have also confessed to using drugs including the team captain George Hincapie. Here's a quote taken from the article attributed to Hincapie.

George Hincapie, US Postal team captain from 1999-2005, admitted doping for the first time on Wednesday, saying that early in his professional career it became clear to him "that given the widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs by cyclists at the top of the profession, it was not possible to compete at the highest level without them".
Basically they all had to take PED's because everyone else was. Of course, they had a choice. They could have blown the whistle. They could have shared all their knowledge of how drugs were taken and assisted in developing more effective testing. Instead they went along with the peloton, took the drugs, and achieved temporary success. Now they're experience the shame of that success.

I've heard commentators make this same argument for baseball players. It goes something like this. "Imagine you're in the minor leagues working your butt off, and you have more talent than Joe. Then Joe starts hitting the ball out of the park and you learn he's juicing. Then Joe makes it to the majors and six months later you're still playing minor league ball. How strong would the temptation be to also artificially improve your game? How important is integrity verses success?"

Then today I came across another article addressing peer pressure. This article focused on binge drinking in college. Apparently many binge drinkers  in college don't enjoy it or even want to participate, but do so because it increases their social status. The research found that this really was the case:
Binge drinking actually seemed to contribute to this satisfaction. High-status binge drinkers were happier with their social lives than high-status students who didn't binge drink. And low-status students who binge drank had higher social satisfaction than their non-binging peers.
However, the researchers also pointed out that "binge drinking is not the smartest way to improve your chances of college happiness. Binge drinking was also associated with higher rates of sexual victimization and academic troubles, among other nasty consequences, she said.

A final statement from this report that warmed my heart reflected the importance of campus ministries.
One glimmer of hope, Hsu said, was that students in religious organizations who did not binge drink were more socially satisfied than other low-status non-bingers.
The church provides a place of acceptance and belonging (social satisfaction), even on college campuses. Christ calls us out of the world. He calls us to separate ourselves. But he also calls us to a loving family. He calls us to be part of a body: a body that honors the least among us. (1 Cor. 12:24-26) God gives Christians the strength to resist peer pressure, because approval from others is no longer our most important desire.

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