Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Who do you consider a role model?

I am going to start this post by saying, I love the YouTuber known as Hannah Harto. She started out with a segment called 'My Drunk Kitchen', which has evolved into personal logs, world travel, mass worldwide volunteering, and probably various other adventures. I find Hannah to be a delightful character to follow. She is honest, real, a LGBTQ superwoman, and always can make me laugh. The fact that she uses her fan base as a way of inciting good deeds and positive messages is really inspiring!

The only thing wrong with Hannah's YouTube channel is the demographic. According to Wikipedia (an always reliable source-- merp), the majority of YouTube users are in the age range of 14-17 years old. This is clear when viewing the audience of almost any YouTuber's meet-ups with fans. Again, Hannah has many positive influences on these kids, she is straightforward about sexuality, body image, and various other topics teens need to hear about. In which case, YouTube is a marvelous place to learn. My question is, however, is a "show" based on the fun of cooking while highly intoxicated really the sort of thing that should be presented in a shared space with what is good and right and just? Should a 16 year old watch their beloved "leader" talk about empowerment and beauty, only to be followed by this same "leader" downing drink after drink and attempting to use the stove while sloshed?

Next to the other role models of today; the provocative, raunchy-mouthed, vodka-glugging sorts we know and love/hate, Hannah is a saint. I recognize this. I also realize kids will learn and see and hear these things in a million other places before and after 'My Drunk Kitchen', but does that make it permissible? According to videos of Hannah's and many like it, drinking is what youth is about. Sloppy inebriation is youth and fun and friendly, it's not until you start becoming old and boring that alcohol is the bad guy....

I'm not saying alcohol is bad, I certainly have partaken in my share. I know the invigorating feeling of the whole shebang! On the other hand, I've also read all the lists on saying how "you're getting old when you can't drink as much". It's "uncool" to not drink as much as possible while you're young enough to. I've seen the propaganda. I know how many 20-somethings buy into the lies of the advertisements. Television shows of middle aged women, too! Those who drink tons of wine are more fun, exciting, and youthful. That is who you should aim to be. Men will like you, your kids will like you, and life will just be peachy keen... if you drink away your troubles.

We're also reminded time and time again that some alcohol is good for your heart. Maybe this is so, but so is exercise, so is getting enough sleep, so is not going out to party every night. These lies are going to be the downfall of society. Maybe even of your life!

I am writing on this matter because of someone particular I have in mind. Someone who just turned 21 and is convinced in order to feel young, and fully experience life, drinking excessively is necessary. I overheard this person saying the other day, "You've had that bottle of vodka since Halloween? I've probably bought 7 or 8 since then." and another time, "She rarely goes out. People over 20 don't drink and have the same fun we do. I don't want to be like that."


Now, I will mention, this may not (hopefully) be the typical sentiment of the early 20 year old. See, this early 20 year old is particularly, what's the word? Stupid? Yes.

Do people over 20 drink just as much as people under 20? Generally, I would say so. Probably more because they can afford it and have real life issues which they like to drink away on the weekend.

Do people over 20 have just as much fun as people under 20? Most probably would say they do. Maybe not as often due to work and responsibility, but heck, maybe these individuals are onto better things than clubbing and passing out!

What I'm trying to say is, you can be an alcoholic at any age, that doesn't make you a better person. Shocker! Dare I say, it makes me sad. If you feel old and boring at 21, you have a LONG time to go, during which you'll be very depressed. Hate to break it to you.

It has been said time and time that the role models of today are terrible (not that they're any worse than Ozzy or Jimi or The Ramones...), but I think society needs to start establishing what they consider bad role modeling because it's gross or weird or annoying and what sorts of issues we actually have to focus on. We have to remodel what we consider the social norms and what can be laughed off as "kids will be kids", as opposed to, "I do not want my child exposed to this and I do not want this to be considered right or acceptable." Because in the end, what your kid's friends think and do and see does affect what your kid will think and do and see.

If I had the power, I would remind websites likes YouTube and Buzzfeed and all those sites who their audience is and what sort of message they are sending them. Adult or child, we are all influenced by what "everyone else" is doing. Don't drink the Kool-Aid is what I am saying, even if it has added vitamins.

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