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Smoking: Influencing vs Programmability


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A totally hilarious aside popped up in the SL Forum thread, How does your avatar look today ?

Question posed: "But does it help promote the idea that smoking is glamorous and [thus] increase the chance that others might smoke in RL?

 

The question isn’t funny. The responses from the influence susceptible people are funny and sad.

 

We have studies and stats regarding the effect of exposing children to portrayals of various behavior and particularly smoking. (Ref - 2015) One really can’t debate whether such portrayals have an influence. The correlation data is clear and abundant.

The concern is from the idea children have yet to fully develop mentally and still lack critical thinking abilities thus are highly susceptible to influence. So the effort to eliminate the portrayal of smoking in various media consumed by the young came to be. Generally a good thing.

Unfortunately, some people never develop the skills needed to protect their thinking from directed influence, regardless of age. More unfortunate is human nature is such that to a greater or lesser extent everyone can be programmed when that nature is understood. The infamous example is Nazi propaganda and censorship (aka controlled media and cancel culture).

Corporations have learned how to market their products or said another way, to influence people to buy their product. Politicians and ideologues have adopted and advanced the science/art of how to influence people to program in their ideas and agenda. Some people never realize how they are being influenced or on which subjects and ideas.

I see us in an ocean of information and propaganda. Huge amounts of it are spun or faked to influence people toward a particular agenda. When listening to people you often hear the result coming out, especially if you recognize a particular agenda's talking points. Any discussion of the principals involved is omitted.

 

The question isn’t so much should the creative use of smoking in an artistic image be restricted, as whether the audience here is so programmable we should infringe on the artist’s freedom of expression?

Edited by Nalates Urriah
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Absolutely not. The moment we restrict a single piece of artistic freedom, it opens a gateway for restricting stuff, and then suddenly we are at China level censorship.

Personally, not a fan of smoking IRL. Have considered nicotine free vape but ultimately decided against it for now because of uncertancies of it's safety. But if people want to smoke away their lungs, in real life or in fiction, it is by all means their choice, as long as they do so respectfully such as doing it in smoking areas, away from doors, or in their own home.

My avatar has smoked once or twice before, sometimes it adds to the mood/setting, especially if you are wanting to role play as a tough mafia guy who will probably break all three of your knees(yes, three, you have two but he'll find a third).

As for children seeing such media, it is highly up to the parents to teach their children. Lots have lately just started giving them a phone and letting them watch youtube to keep them busy, but a lot of this is mindless "12 little <insert franchise character here> jumping on the bed, one fell off and bumped his head.", with absolutely no educational value. Life lessons and education need to be taught by the parents, and not relied upon the wild west that is the internet.

Edited by Chaser Zaks
Shrunk spy a bit, he was too big for the forums
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I grew up in the era of cigarette ads on TV and lots of smoking in TV shows/movies.  My relatives smoking influenced me far more than any of that.

IMO, what people see and hear around them, at home/school/work, being done and said by people they know, will have far more influence on folks (even young minds) than TV shows & movies.  The biggest exception being sports players -- for some reason they seem to have extreme influence on people of all ages, especially here in the US.

Edited by LittleMe Jewell
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I was a child in the 80's when smoking was allowed on TV and in advertising.  I took up smoking as a teen, not because I saw it in a TV show or in a picture and thought "oh how cool/glamorous, I MUST do that."  I did it because I was always told NOT to, and being a rebellious teen...you bet if you told me not to do something, I sure as heck was gonna do it.  

Over the years I have quit, started again, quit started again, but again, not because of media images.  I liked how it gave me a few minutes of peace and relaxation in times of stress.  I finally quit for good 16 years ago and my bank balance is happier for it.  

My avatar uses cigarettes as a prop to add atmosphere and attitude to pictures.  Is this going to make me restart smoking?  Nope!  My avatar also wears tattoos and I have no desire AT ALL to get any.   She also likes to fall off high things and go splat on the ground below.  I have no desire to fall off tall buildings and splat, though there may be people who would like that.  

When I see other people posting pictures with their avatars smoking I admire their smoke effects, or the atmosphere and feel of their picture.  I admire their creativity.  Just because it may not be something the viewer likes, doesn't make it wrong.  I miss the days when people would just look at something, shrug and move on.  Now we have to coddle and hand hold and tip toe around in fear of hurting people's fragile sensibilities.

It's just pixels...or a photoshop brush effect.  It's not going to hurt anyone!  And if the audience is so programmable to smoke by viewing a picture, then therapy is probably in order...after they turn off their computer.

Edited by Jordan Whitt
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22 minutes ago, Nalates Urriah said:

Unfortunately, some people never develop the skills needed to protect their thinking from directed influence, regardless of age. More unfortunate is human nature is such that to a greater or lesser extent everyone can be programmed when that nature is understood. The infamous example is Nazi propaganda and censorship (aka controlled media and cancel culture).

This is what I was trying to express, but failed to. Regardless of what people think, they can influence someone in a negative manner by what they choose to portray to people. Whether that be smoking, alcoholism, sex, etc. We see this in real life, on other social media apps, and we see this on here.

What is concerning is people's lack of accountability. It seems as if quite a few do not want to accept the fact that what they post could be influential in a negative way. People do not like being told that they could potentially be doing something wrong, which isn't a good thing. That is ego getting in the way.

I don't think that means that we should infringe on someone's freedom of expression, though. It would take generations of teaching people what is acceptable/what is not for things to truly change in today's world, and that isn't going to happen any time soon.

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2 minutes ago, xLunaea said:

This is what I was trying to express, but failed to. Regardless of what people think, they can influence someone in a negative manner by what they choose to portray to people. Whether that be smoking, alcoholism, sex, etc. We see this in real life, on other social media apps, and we see this on here.

What is concerning is people's lack of accountability. It seems as if quite a few do not want to accept the fact that what they post could be influential in a negative way. People do not like being told that they could potentially be doing something wrong, which isn't a good thing. That is ego getting in the way.

I don't think that means that we should infringe on someone's freedom of expression, though. It would take generations of teaching people what is acceptable/what is not for things to truly change in today's world, and that isn't going to happen any time soon.

Every single person does things that can manage to impact someone negatively -- and there is no way to prevent it.  

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2 minutes ago, LittleMe Jewell said:

Every single person does things that can manage to impact someone negatively -- and there is no way to prevent it.

Not true. Banning cigarette ads reduced smoking in the population.  Far fewer people smoke today.

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8 minutes ago, xLunaea said:

This is what I was trying to express, but failed to. Regardless of what people think, they can influence someone in a negative manner by what they choose to portray to people. Whether that be smoking, alcoholism, sex, etc. We see this in real life, on other social media apps, and we see this on here.

What is concerning is people's lack of accountability. It seems as if quite a few do not want to accept the fact that what they post could be influential in a negative way. People do not like being told that they could potentially be doing something wrong, which isn't a good thing. That is ego getting in the way.

I don't think that means that we should infringe on someone's freedom of expression, though. It would take generations of teaching people what is acceptable/what is not for things to truly change in today's world, and that isn't going to happen any time soon.

I don't get how this is "potentially something wrong".  Smoking is legal.  Drinking alcohol is legal.  Whilst it is true there are many negatives to doing both, accountability should also be on the head of those that drink and smoke, not someone who uses them to express themselves in a picture.  As I said above, I gave up smoking 16 years ago, drinking about 20 years ago.  This does not mean I won't use cigarettes and alcohol if the picture I am taking needs a little something more. 

Being trapped with my family in lock downs for weeks on end is far more likely to drive me to drinking again than seeing a picture of someone holding a beer!

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2 minutes ago, Jordan Whitt said:

Being trapped with my family in lock downs for weeks on end is far more likely to drive me to drinking again than seeing a picture of someone holding a beer!

Okay. And for others, it could be an image of someone drinking on instagram, facebook, or even on here. You are speaking for yourself, not others.

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12 minutes ago, LittleMe Jewell said:

Every single person does things that can manage to impact someone negatively -- and there is no way to prevent it.  

As I said in my post, it would take generations of teaching (reprogramming, if you will) for things to change. I also said that won't happen anytime soon.

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1 minute ago, xLunaea said:

 And for others, it could be an image of someone drinking on instagram, facebook, or even on here. You are speaking for yourself, not others.

And we have no way of knowing what triggers each person in this world.  There is no way that each individual person can do things such that they never, ever trigger someone else.  There are just too many variables that are unknown to folks.

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4 minutes ago, xLunaea said:

Okay. And for others, it could be an image of someone drinking on instagram, facebook, or even on here. You are speaking for yourself, not others.

I always speak for myself.   More than I probably should!

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Just now, LittleMe Jewell said:

And we have no way of knowing what triggers each person in this world.  There is no way that each individual person can do things such that they never, ever trigger someone else.  There are just too many variables that are unknown to folks.

It has been, and is being, studied.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3084464/

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1 minute ago, xLunaea said:

As I said in my post, it would take generations of teaching (reprogramming, if you will) for things to change. I also said that won't happen anytime soon.

It won't ever happen.  We are all imperfect humans and thus we will never achieve a state where absolutely every single thing we say and do will not harm someone in some way.

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Tobacco companies paid for cigarette ads for a reason. They always claimed that reason was to sway people from one brand to another, never to lure new smokers. But anybody old enough to remember Joe Camel knows that was a blatant lie.

Persuasion is persuasive, and subtle persuasion is insidious.

Anyway, it seems unlikely that banning SL "smoking" would have any meaningful effect on the total population of smokers.

On the other hand, I can sure imagine seeing an avatar "smoking" could trigger cravings in those trying to quit. So SL "smokers" might want to think twice if they're not entirely sure all observers are immune to such cravings. (I had an avatar who used to "sneak out" for a "smoke" as a kind of character trait but I stopped for just this consideration.)

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8 minutes ago, xLunaea said:

As I said in my post, it would take generations of teaching (reprogramming, if you will) for things to change. I also said that won't happen anytime soon.

Living in a world like that terrifies me.  

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1 hour ago, Nalates Urriah said:

The question isn’t so much should the creative use of smoking in an artistic image be restricted, as whether the audience here is so programmable we should infringe on the artist’s freedom of expression?

I don't believe artistic expression should be restricted, but for myself I don't want to include something in my creation that has caused untold suffering and death -- not if I'm attempting to portray the art in a positive light.

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5 minutes ago, LittleMe Jewell said:

It won't ever happen.  We are all imperfect humans and thus we will never achieve a state where absolutely every single thing we say and do will not harm someone in some way.

I know that it won't happen. These things were introduced a long time ago in order to hurt the individual and essentially keep their senses dulled. It works, and has been working well for a long time now.

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5 minutes ago, LittleMe Jewell said:

It won't ever happen.  We are all imperfect humans and thus we will never achieve a state where absolutely every single thing we say and do will not harm someone in some way.

Just because we can't create a perfect world does not mean we should not try to do what we can.  No need to make this into a black and white issue.

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As far as I'm concerned, SL is for doing things you might not, want to wouldn't, couldn't do in SL. What's wrong with puffing a fumidor in the digital domain?

I smoked for years, quite heavily. I gave up quite a while back. I've no need to smoke in RL, but I can't see what's the issue with doing it in SL.

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