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.