Generational Drug Use
One of defining facets of millennial youth and pre-Facebook culture was drug use. Drug use has always been bound to the exosphere of culture, reflecting and reifying mainstream culture's values, even in a rebellion. This is a thread to discuss it as it relates to zoomers and millennials. I will recount my own understanding of the oral history of modern drug culture. Feel free to correct it.

Now, offline (and most millennials were still offline around 1999-2001), culture was heavily shaped by music. MTV was the defining culture-orienting force then, and it would remain so for nearly a decade after. Although Wigger culture was still in ascendancy - primarily driven by Eminem - rock and metal were still thriving. This era's defining rock/metal ran from Nirvana, Faith No More, Metallica, Tool, and all the way to Slipknot, Radiohead, and Greenday. This was the music of suburbia. You know who the Tool kids were, who the slipknot kids were, who the Greenday kids were. Music was a social signifier and stratifier of suburban social groups. Yet this music, down to the core, was rooted in a seething hatred of the conditions of suburban life. Anyone with an IQ above room temperature wanted out.

In this context, one can understand the role of drug culture, and it’s attraction. Where Gen X was experiencing it’s own self-cultural critique by way of movies such as American Beauty, teenagers found escape by hanging out at the skatepark and smoking low-grade weed out of a perforated Coke can. All while blasting a Napster-pirated copy of Smells Like Teen Spirit. People mocked D.A.R.E and mocked safeytism doubly so. Willingness to experiment and push the boundaries was even associated with a sort of alternative masculinity. The bravest and boldest were taking mushrooms and taking heroic doses of acid. There was status in that - much respect was attributed to those who were most willing to task risks (see MTV’s Jackass).

Shifting back to online: Millennials, as the generation of ‘Post’ —  post-rock, post-metal, post-modern — inherited nearly five decades of accumulated multimedia as they came online. On any forums in the early-mid 2000s, you would find numerous posts on drugs. These were by Millennial nerds and autists, which composed a different social formation to the skater-bro. Here, one could still find a pervasive optimism about the future, driven by technological innovations, and observe a kind of quasi-60s revivalism. SomethingAwful had to dedicate an entire subforum to the culture. In all such places, the spirit present was one of youth rebellion coupled with that revivalism: high-minded drug use was a means towards spiritual enlightenment. People spoke of Leary, of Osho, and read DMT: The Spirit Molecule. You could see strains of this everywhere online. It wasn’t hard to find.

Erowid, a generational intersection between millennial nerds and Gen X ones, compiled an incredibly large corpus of experiential diaries. It remains one of the most interesting cultural artifacts of that era - a collective journal documenting radical fringe and dangerous experimentation with every substance under the sun. In retrospect, it reads as Lovecraftian horror, with many users blazing towards a permanent and infinite psychosis. Yet, I think there was a beauty in it, a mad and crazed quest to reach the most extreme psychological states possible -  against the edge of madness. It was, unsurprisingly, an entirely white autist phenomenon.

By the late 2000s, the enthusiasm had diminished. Millennials culturally normalized weed, and it was [becoming] an accepted recreational drug. No one smoked out of bent coke-cans anymore. Guys got high with their friends and watched Adventure Time. Or played some Halo 3 co-op. This was the pre-history to many modern Millennial norwoods. Meanwhile, disjoint cultural forces had begun to mock and tear apart the more nerdy psychedelic revivalism, which had already started to fall out of favor for the youngest Millennials and the oldest zoomers. What persists in this trend might be singularly represented in the figure of Joe Rogan, who alone seems to carry this cultural torch. No doubt partially accounting for his popularity amongst norwoods.

Somewhere during all this, there was also a shift towards party drugs. Xtasy was the new king. It was the drug of Scene and Emo. The drug of intense hedonistic experience, and it was the first precursor to Zoomer drug subculture. If drug use amongst millennials could be framed as a suburbanite rebellion against their reagenite parents, Xtasy was the first drug of early Web 2.0. It was the drug of MySpace and Facebook. And it came at a time when social media brought a tremendous amount of self-regard for our digital presence and image. Not only did everyone want to party  — they felt an intense and burning need to be seen doing so. It was a novel and new marker of social status. This brought a brief revivalism of rave culture (previously primarily an Urban phenomenon) and interspersed it throughout the suburbs of America. Although the revivalism was short-lived, the nihilistic hedonism of it was henceforth entrenched. Where the Erowdite sought the spiritual edges of inner experience, this new group favored a simplistic escape from the doldrums of modern life.

If the original hedonism of X was still high-minded and social, it would soon decay into its lowest form. X faded back to the periphery. Opioids rose. Xannies rose. Lil’ Peep emptied a bottle on a bus yet managed to keep releasing music two years post-mortem. Many zoomers have grown up smoking weed, but it isn’t a rebellious act anymore — it is “I don’t feel good. I want to feel good”. This is what I’ve been told. And if they go harder, they go harder with the intent to escape. And not just Xanax and Opioids, but cheap and dirty shit such as codeine and whippets. Teenage trannies empty bottles of cough syrup under Amazon-purchased LEDs as they blast 100 Gecs. This is the world you see in Euphoria, though I’ve been told by many zoomers that it is simply an extreme glamorization of how it actually goes.

What is the Amarnite perspective on modern zoomer drug culture? Who is drawn in by it? Who is destroyed by it? Does the high-minded approach still exist - at all?
Good OP. I think that the high-minded, psychedelic "Expand your mind brooo" approach exists in scattered parts among the more high-minded and intelligent Zoomers (influenced by Joe Rogan and his guests, to a large degree), but I think that for the most part it is a very nihilistic thing. There's something very depressing about it in a way that previous drug culture wasn't. The average Zoomer drug user today doesn't fall into either of the two main drug user archetypes of previous generations, those being the idealistic, goofy, New Age-interested weed & psychedelics-using hippie slacker (originating with the Boomers) and the very intentionally cynical, rebellious, & independence-minded hard drug (heroin, coke, etc.) user (mostly a more Gen X phenomenon). They are hedonistic, but in a much more passive and pathetic way. In a sense, most Zoomers have been permanently buckbroken by being born and raised in the shadow of 9/11 and the Recession. As such, their drug culture lacks any sort of higher aspiration or idealism, but consists of simple nihilistic hedonism to drown out the dull pain of life for one more day. They are decadent and degenerate, but in a bland and boring manner, like a gray, desaturated version of Slaanesh cultists from 40k.
The fundamental divide between current and past use is the decline of social life. Millennials smoked weed, popped X, and (another drug declining in use) drank alcohol as a social ritual, just like the boomers and Xers before them. And these drugs really do all work in different ways to improve social interactions. Current drug use appears nihilistic because it's largely a form of asocial entertainment, like masturbation, or used as a coping mechanism. Obviously drugs were used in this way before by some people but it has become closer to the default. Erowid psychonauts were pretty abherrent people.

This isn't limited to "Zoomers". A lot of cringe substance use behavior from the balding IPA-and-edibles connoisseur crowd is an attempt to recapture a still-remembered social environment.
Thank you for this. I appreciate all modern anthropological posts here. It is something unique to this forum.

Youth drug use is old enough now to be a tradition. Therefore, zoomers do not have much of a "reason" for beginning to use drugs. They do it because their elder peers do it. All of their social gatherings consist of drug use not for a "reason", but because this is just what you do. Hanging out without substances is weird.

This is corroborated by the fact that zoomer drug use is more pronounced inside of (especially secondary) educational institutions. Once zoomers graduate, they enter into the broader social environment of society at large, and I notice that their interest in drugs lessens. They become capable of interacting without drugs. Some decide that they aren't interested in drugs anymore.

Individual instances of drug use are motivated by psychological or social need. Once the social need abates for the aforementioned reason, many become aware of the psychological need. They realize that they are sad, that their prospects do not look good, they are existentially confused, etc. This is especially the case for women to my understanding.

The type of drugs used, in my circles, have primarily been weed, alcohol, xanax, and ADHD meds. With the exception of some cough syrup nonsense here or there in degenerate circles. Doing LSD a few times for the experience is not too uncommon, but few are habitually interested in it. They have been successfully scared away from harder drugs - I do not see the cheap and dirty shit you mention, though maybe this is true for poor people. One might bring/do coke or something at a party as an edgy move, but that's about it. Use of cigarettes is not common. Vaping is ubiquitous in school milieus but less so outside of them, again for the aforementioned reason. Many people quit vaping after graduation.

Each subtle clique (zoomer cliques are not incredibly well defined, imo) is associated with its own subtle drugs of choice, circumstances under which they are used, and behaviors while using them. Absolute degenerate skater guys are mostly interested in weed, and they use it alone more often than socially. Sports guys are interested in weed or alcohol, and they use them socially and not very often alone. Etc.
Testimonial (this will not be well thought-out/written):

I straddle the line between Millennial and Zoomer. I immediately took to smoking weed every day upon entering college. My first impression upon getting high was "this feels great, so if everyone just takes weed for granted, then the 'harder' stuff will feel even better, and so will also take me to greater thrills, and so also might help me 'solve myself'" (I was always a 'nervous child'). The degree to which the vacuous "therapeutic" pretense was able to take hold of my will I don't remember, but in the wake of my behavior I'm sure it'd be hard to exaggerate. In any case drugs almost definitely will not solve your problems. I was soon a total and complete Drug Nerd, compulsively following various drug forums, purchasing a large quantity of BTC (lol) to buy as much LSD and 'research chemicals' as I could afford while being able to feed myself.

I possessed a rather singular fixation on acquiring exotic hallucinogenic drugs until I was legally permitted to purchase alcohol. From that day on I've forgoed much else besides a drunken night. For the last ~6 years I've gotten drunk more nights often than not, as an end in itself. 'Street drugs' have entered the mix but have never been more attractive than alcohol.

Happy Ending: I've since reentered undergraduate University into a somewhat rigorous field. I smoke weed in lieu of drinking when deadlines approach. This is how I maintain my grades.

Do not develop a substance habit. If you're not a loser already it could circle you into that drain.
Quote:Otaku are anti-somatic. Information is their only drug, but that they preferably take intravenously.

I think most recreational drugs are incompatible with the "information age": as more of our leisure centers the active use of the human mind, substances that derange its functioning will fall out of fashion, leaving only stimulants and a handful of "mind-opening" psychedelics.

The most significant difference in regards to Zoomer's drug use is the ubiquitous prescription of speed and tranquilizers from a young age and nothing even comes close.

It's fun to mock the idea everyone under 25 has suddenly developed crippling social anxiety, but anecdotally it seems they really have. I suspect a lot of youth have missed important developmental milestones without realizing it by leaning on a klonopin prescription.

I suspect Adderall (and it's imitators) are even worse. Pumping your brain full of speed is the perfect way to ignore long term low-level malaise (the type which can actually be fixed with self-help advice). Why bother developing better sleeping and eating habits when you're not going to feel the difference anyways?
(10-14-2022, 05:29 PM)calico Wrote: I suspect Adderall (and it's imitators) are even worse. Pumping your brain full of speed is the perfect way to ignore long term low-level malaise (the type which can actually be fixed with self-help advice). Why bother developing better sleeping and eating habits when you're not going to feel the difference anyways?

The problem with the long-term malaise as stated is that the underlying conditions for it never quite goes away unless one is able to find a genuinely stimulating outlet. In reality, it often feels as if individuals end up abusing stimulants as way to get well-positioned in a career where the work is so utterly grueling that they find themselves unable to perform it daily, week after week... year after year. There is a spectacular dullness experienced to wake up in the morning and see your laptop, anticipating that the next 8 hours of your life is going to involve  autisticly tweaking/refining the same algorithm you've worked on for the last seven months. 

Good sleep, good food, and discipline can ride you through a lot - but it cannot quite alleviate the soul-crushing nature of certain (now common) kinds of work.
I had a roommate last year who was enrolled in a Doctoral program in Data Science. This dude didn't seem to care about much else besides his Amphetamine, prescriptions, etc. before his Research. IOW the drugs were a preliminary to his work product.

This guy was extremely well-versed in Mathematics and Computer Science and probably could have secured a six-figure job any time he wanted. He instead opted to pursue Research at a second-rate university.

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