Posted in Opinions

Vaping doesn’t have to mean giving up your identity

Don't fall prey to the "pack mentality" that comes with a trend

Image Credits: Grant Zhou

Vaping is getting more and more popular in Canada. People think of vaping as a way for smokers to wean themselves off of nicotine. This works well — a little too well, in fact. A troubling number of people who use vapes use them recreationally, to the point where there’s now a “vape” subculture.

As happens regularly in our world, we’ve taken something that a small group of people genuinely enjoy, blown it out of proportion, made a million memes about it, and created a subculture rife with snobbery, entitlement, and exclusivity. It happened to Penny boards, it happened with weed, and it’s now happened with vaporizers.

Advertisers evoke our natural pack mentality with scenes like “boy meets girl after sharing a Coke,” or “a man and his family play with their dog while he sports fashionable Ray-Bans.” This is where the vaping subculture comes into play.

You might go to the store and buy one after hearing of the benefits, or seeing your friends with one, or maybe just wanting to try one out as an impulse-buy. You’ll enjoy it, get excited about it, and want to share your newfound interest with friends. Some people will still blow it off as a silly and ridiculous hobby, though.

So you turn to the Internet in search of a community that supports your interests.  You find it and start to feel more confident; however, the members of that community begin to saturate your views with their own. When you’re constantly surrounded by others who think and feel the same way, physically or not, you begin to fall into an echo chamber of ideals, where no one has a different opinion.

You share memes, ask questions about different kinds of vapes, start dressing and talking like each other, and soon enough you feel like your opinions are the only opinions that anyone has.

We develop pack mentality, and that assures us that it’s acceptable to vape indoors, in line at a bus stop, at parties and clubs, or around others who might be sensitive to its smell.

But this isn’t nefarious. It’s just people being inconsiderate and ignorant to the fact that the brand, object, or hobby they’ve chosen to identify with isn’t necessarily one that others appreciate — and in fact, it may be one that becomes a source of irritation.

There’s nothing wrong with vaping in itself. You aren’t a bad person for inhaling vaporized fumes — but that’s not the sole component of who you are.

This loss of identity will continue if we allow ourselves to be defined by the things we purchase. Companies and brands count on us to overindulge in products and oversaturate our senses.

But you are not the product that you’ve bought, and there is no reason to act like it. We’re individuals separate from the stereotypes associated with the objects we purchase. Let’s live like we own our possessions, not as though our possessions own us.

  • charlie

    People with common interests tend to associate with each other. The “culture” part is a reaction to demonizing by people who depend on tobacco taxes. A billion people spend a trillion dollars a year on tobacco. The people who benefit from that money, mostly via taxes, don’t like funding threat.

    If there were no excise taxes on tobacco everybody would love ecigs and the inventor would get the Nobel prize in medicine.

  • Murray_B

    This is a very strange article. As someone who smoked cigarettes for 46 years and was stigmatized and subjected to excessive taxes for most of that time I expect there is nothing vapers can do to avoid the coming bigotry. Blaming the victims is just the start of the new ‘war’ on vapers.

  • I smoked cigarettes for 39 yrs, without any hope of ever being able to quit. Aong came vaping, and a miracle: I quit smoking, without any angst or psychosis or even driving my husband insane, and thx to vaping, I’ve been able to stay quit for over 2 yrs now. Hence, I really don’t give a rat’s ass what anyone else thinks about vaping; I think it’s miraculous and wonderful and the best thing to happen to public health since the smallpox vaccine. As for vaping indoors, that’s really why I started vaping, I was tired of freezing out on the porch. My husband doesn’t have a single problem with me vaping in the house, he’s as delighted as I am, so again, the opinion of the ignorant is of zero interest or relevance. Vaping works to eliminate and prevent tobacco smoking, and for that alone, it does deserve the Nobel prize. I will support it to my dying breath — which will no doubt be a lot further into the future, now that I don’t inhale all that poisonous smoke anymore.