Social Question

nikipedia's avatar

Do you care about the effects of your vices?

Asked by nikipedia (27338 points ) October 31st, 2011

Lots of our indulgences carry the risk of exploitation—pornography isn’t always made by people who are happy to be in the business, recreational drug use (even marijuana) is associated with powerful and dangerous drug cartels, your cheeseburger probably didn’t come from a cow that happily donated its life to your dinner, and so on.

I am not interested in debating the relative merits of each of these things, although feel free to add that in if you want. What I’m really interested in is: Whatever your vices, do you consider where they come from and who else they affect? If so, how do you reconcile their consequences with your desire for them, or do you?

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23 Answers

boxer3's avatar

I re-evaluate myself on a regular basis.
I think it’s important.
Sometimes I make changes, sometimes I don’t.
I try not to make excuses.

Blackberry's avatar

Don’t make me evaluate my bad decisions!

To be honest, I don’t think about that stuff, and I’m probably not going to. I have cut back on fast food, but I eat it once a month. I have a few drinks pretty much everyday I get home from work, and I don’t care about that either. I almost became addicted to coffee, but I realized what was happening before it was too late and stopped.

woodcutter's avatar

Pretty much everything we do could be considered a vice. Nothing we do or use or make is completely free of consequences for something.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I honestly haven’t thought about it to that degree, but I also don’t really consider anything I do a “vice”. I eat meat and drink on occasion, but I don’t really consider those vices.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

“Whatever your vices, do you consider where they come from and who else they affect?”

Yes.

“If so, how do you reconcile their consequences with your desire for them, or do you?”

I don’t. That’s why they’re called vices. Ever had your finger caught in a vice before? It doesn’t let you go until someone intervenes upon the vice, or you rip your finger off. Losing the finger is probably the best lesson learned to stay away from that vice permanently.

john65pennington's avatar

I only have one vice and that is a Marlboro cigarette. No drugs, no alcohol, no illegal pills or pot.

I have been a smoker of 50 plus years and I have no intention of stopping now.

I am healthy and someone in heaven must love me.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I spend a lot of time considering all these things. One way or another, I’m implicit in some suffering. I try to live by ‘do less harm’, by harm reduction.

Joker94's avatar

I don’t really have a lot of vices, but I always take time to evaluate them. But what I choose to do isn’t harmful, in moderation, and has yet to really hurt anybody or anything. If what I did was endangering myself or others, though, I would probably drop it immediately. But it doesn’t, so I don’t. A little bit of indulgence is okay in small doses.

wundayatta's avatar

I’m not exactly sure what you mean when you say “vice.” You mention porn, but then you mention beef. Am I to include the use of an automobile as a vice? How about having a house? Using flush toilets? Throwing stuff into the garbage?

I mean, it sounds to me that the way you use this term, everything is a vice. Which is fine with me, because I’m a great believer in understanding the larger consequences of your actions.

I use a hybrid car in order to reduce the amount of gasoline I use. I compose organic material so it doesn’t have to get into the waste stream. I buy my vegetables and some meats at the local farmers market so my food doesn’t have to pay a lot to travel to me. The food is also fresher and probably more nutritious.

I care about the work I do, and I won’t do just anything for a buck. My work has always been about making the world a better place—from the ERA to the first big energy crunch to anti-nuclear to clean water to health care for all to educating new scientists, my work has always about preparing or helping people live in a better balance with the resources we have available.

We try to use less energy. We try to use less water. This is so that there is more to go around, but also because it might save us money in the long run.

Are these things vices? We think about the consequences of our actions in the economy. We think about how workers are affected. We have supported boycotts. We support organizations that fight for the environment or many other things.

We avoid purchasing drugs (not hard, since we don’t use them). We drink little. We don’t smoke. We try not to bring more carcinogens into the world. And porn? Who knows? Is it a problem for the actors? I honestly don’t know. If it is, then they must be really good actors.

zensky's avatar

I have none that concern other people.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Which concerns me.

Symbeline's avatar

I might think about em, but rarely will I ever do much about it. I mean if I waste food and throw it in the garbage, it’s not like if I ate it instead, some starving child somewhere would get food. Either you eat it or throw it away, he or she still ain’t getting it. (food isn’t a vice for me though, and I really don’t throw much out at all, so following up)
I’m also pretty sure my booze problem isn’t hurting anyone but me. Not that I don’t think vices can’t hurt anyone but the person catering to them. Then again a vice wouldn’t really be a vice if you weren’t the only one fucked up by it, at least technically. That isn’t my justification, not for a goddamn cent, I just try to keep in my own little corner. I mean just going grocery shopping probably means I just forfeited some Communists from seeing a better life. Yeah I lied, I was originally gonna say, I’m just a product of my times! Which I guess I prolly am, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking bout shit. I just don’t do much about it at all, whether or not I think it can make a difference. Sue me. Vices seem so personal that you don’t really end up thinking about the wave effects. Which might be a problem. I hope I don’t actually contribute to social plagues.
I give a lot of change and cigarettes to the homeless though. Yeah, some big help that is. Not related, but if God is real, I hope He remembers. Sometimes I NEED that change and smokes lol.

Ponderer983's avatar

Something will get you one day – might as well live it up!

JLeslie's avatar

I do think about my time on the computer. It affects my relationship in that my husband hates it. Lately I have been thinking I will reduce the time significantly, and do my best to never be on line when he is in the same room as me.

My old vice was coca-cola/caffeine. I loooovved coke, still do, but I quit years ago. I cheat now and again. I don’t think the vice really hurt anyone much, except that it probably wasn’t the best thing for me to consume for my own health, and I woke up grumpy.

I consider Italian food to be a vice of mine that likely shortens my life. In fact, I have been eating rather poorly all too often in the last ten years, weigh 10 pounds more than I want to, and my cholesterol usually is pretty high. I think I overeat when I am bored, lonely, or sad. It will likely affect me in the future regarding my health, which will directly affect my husband too. I care about it, but have not done enough to make a big permanent change. I go through months of doing better, and then months of sliding backwards. I do exercise regularly now, but it doesn’t really help my cholesterol numbers much, it’s all about the food with me.

nikipedia's avatar

@wundayatta, I asked about vices because I was specifically interested in things that you do as an indulgence, for pleasure, rather than a necessity. You’re right to point out that there are levels of this, though—e.g., for a lot of people a car isn’t exactly a luxury, although a Ferrari is one under any circumstances.

smilingheart1's avatar

I find that for the conscientious there is a fine line between being cognizant of vice and being swept over into a paralysis of guilt over it. It is so true that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak!

ddude1116's avatar

I worry about them, yes, but I’ve found that sometimes it’s more of a toll on other, less stable, things to worry, as opposed to not. I’d rather be able to go about my day carefree than worry about where breakfast came from, you know? To take the time to find out, then do something about it, you’ve not only wasted precious time, but you’ve sweated over it, which is something I’ve taken a vow against.

wundayatta's avatar

Alcoholism in an individual affects us all, just as the pain of one person affects us all. We are so used to seeing pain, though, that we don’t recognize how it hurts us. We are so used to thinking in terms of zero-sum games, that we have no recognition that the pain of one person hurts us.

How does it hurt us? Because it burns up opportunity. It is an opportunity cost that we all pay. When people are not at their most productive, we all lose out on what they could have produced. Who knows what great works of art or industry we have lost because someone is drinking themselves to death? How many ideas have dissolved in the haze of an alcoholic stupor?

It doesn’t matter how good or bad those ideas may have been. What matters is the loss to the zeitgeist. It may be so small as to be unidentifiable, but small things build up. We will never know what we’ve lost, but we can be damn sure it’s something significant.

We all play a role in the wealth of our community. If one person backs off, we all lose. Not that any individual owes any of the rest of us a thing. But all things being equal, I think people would rather feel good about themselves instead of bad.

Anyway, we live in an interconnected weave of relationships, and what we do, for all we swear it has nothing to do with others, does, in fact, affect others. “No man is an island,” said John Donne. Women aren’t islands, either.

Vices, I think, take us away from others, and allow us to tell ourselves it doesn’t matter what we do; we’re only doing it to ourselves. Vices allow us to hide from our connectedness. They allow us to believe we are isolated and alone and don’t matter.

I would quarrel with your notion, @nikipedia, that vices are pleasures. Pleasure is play. It is having fun. Vices drown our sorrows. And not very well, at that. Vices are ways of trying to paint over the pain. They are ways of fooling ourselves that we don’t matter. Drinking and drugs and disconnected sex are ways of attempting to fix the pain, but they don’t work. However, if people understood they didn’t work, they might not try so hard to deal with their pain that way.

Vices try to provide pleasure without connection. Vices fool us into believing we can have fun without being tied in to the community and without being deeply connected to a person or to an environment. We need to belong. We need to feel known. Many, many people do not feel these things and don’t believe anyone could ever truly know or care about them, and so they take up a vice that manipulates the neuro-transmitters without actually putting it into a human context.

It’s a fake pleasure, and that’s why it lasts for shorter and shorter periods of time, and people have to “use” more and more substance to feel good. Real pleasure results from feeling connected with others. “Play” is the way we express our connection in a fun way. Arts are play. Conversation is play. Humor is play. There are so many ways to play.

But so often, fear and loneliness get in the way. People turn to substances to loosen themselves up, so they can let down the barriers. That can work. But when people must chronically use these substances to let someone in, they have lost the opportunity for a real connection. A real connection must consider the possibility of pain. If you’ve got all the pain muffled over, you can’t have an open connection, and you won’t have a very satisfying relationship.

Pleasure is my pleasure, not my vice. Vices, in moderation, can be part of a pleasure. Vices, in excess, make you lose connection. When you lose connection, you have no idea how you fit in the world. If you have no idea how you fit, why should you care about the impact of your actions? You might, but it would be very difficult to see how you affect others. If you can’t see it, you wouldn’t even be able to take it into account, even if you did care.

CaptainHarley's avatar

I have no vices.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Then how do you hold it together?

CaptainHarley's avatar

Vices help you “hold it together?”

CaptainHarley's avatar

:LMAO! Touche!

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