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Problems with drug hysteria
October 16, 2013 4:09 PM   Subscribe

Hey, I have a bit of a problem with this post.

As demonstrated by GingerBeer, most of the links are untrue or filled with exaggeration and misinformation. Half the subsequent comments are joking about drug abuse and addiction. I dunno, I find it pretty distasteful, and I'm not sure why Metafilter should be highlighting a bunch of weak-ass mainstream media pap that fuels misconceptions about both this particular drug, and drug use in general. Many subsequent comments seem insensitive, cheap, and... well just not very nice.

I feel like the justification of very flags doesn't really stand up on this one (I have contacted the mods and gotten the go-ahead for this MeTa). Much of the stuff linked is untrue but presented as true - surely we can do better flags or no. Am I off the mean here?
posted by smoke to Etiquette/Policy at 4:09 PM (79 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

The framing of the post may not have been ideal, but I think Gingerbeer's comments more than justify the thread.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 4:25 PM on October 16, 2013 [18 favorites]


hah, i genuinely thought this was gonna be about the adhd thread.
posted by emptythought at 4:27 PM on October 16, 2013 [12 favorites]


I think Gingerbeer's comments more than justify the thread.

That was sort of my take. As you know,we usually need a reason to delete and not a reason to keep a post. I didn't like it. Not many flags. I liked gingerbeer's comment a lot. I thought some of the low-hanging lulz were a bit on the uncool side, but I am sort of notoriously humorless about addiction issues.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:27 PM on October 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


hah, i genuinely thought this was gonna be about the adhd thread.

Ha, that was also a very weak piece!
posted by smoke at 4:28 PM on October 16, 2013


Well at least there were no Gyp... sorry, inappropriately identified colorful subcultures, referenced in the fpp.
posted by sammyo at 4:41 PM on October 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Just don't, man.
posted by smoke at 4:44 PM on October 16, 2013 [41 favorites]


What the hell, dude?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:45 PM on October 16, 2013 [71 favorites]


Yeah, I thought this was going to be on the ADHD thread, too.

I got really close to writing a MeTa on that on myself.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:47 PM on October 16, 2013


As the Lulz-loving poster I'm very glad for gingerbeer's contributions, I really had no idea about the deeper issues causing the effects of the drug and the history of the drug in Russia! I learned a lot beyond the breathless headlines that I thought were themselves the story.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:48 PM on October 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


I dunno, I find it pretty distasteful, and I'm not sure why Metafilter should be highlighting a bunch of weak-ass mainstream media pap that fuels misconceptions about both this particular drug, and drug use in general.

I agree with this. I would support factual inaccuracy as a deletion reason.

An FPP with the various links that gingerbeer eventually provided would have been good, though.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:51 PM on October 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Soooooory,

On actually reading the post and comments I see Potomac posted this comment that frames the "attempted tone":

The tone (especially the GASP) is indeed a take off of the breathless nature of many news sources about it.


What we need here is a volunteer editorial service. Does the subtle irony come across? Is the clever wit actually clever, if not is it a punt or can it be tuned. So official pony request for a button to post to the new volunteer cleverness review board. VCRB.metafilter.com
posted by sammyo at 4:52 PM on October 16, 2013


Are you seriously lecturing me on tone after your first post in this thread lol good job, expert.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:53 PM on October 16, 2013 [13 favorites]


No, not at all, I was quoting you, and I certainly need the services of a VCRB often enough. But clearly someone missed the point.
posted by sammyo at 4:55 PM on October 16, 2013


Fair enough. I don't think my tone was the issue though, it was that I totally bought everything I was reading on CNN, Verge, Vice, etc about what this drug was and the danger it posed. For that lack of uncritical reading I do apologize, though I'm glad I did post it so I could learn everything from gingerbeer's links!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:57 PM on October 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, it's an uncritical post about some sensational and voyeuristic reporting. The "shield your eyes" warning really makes it. I guess I could find the energy to get upset. But then I remember that it's just a predictable product of the mixing of breathless "reporting" on the US side and the devastating double-think surrounding drug addiction on the Russian side. It just makes me tired and sad.

Drug addiction in the former USSR is a deep, multifaceted problem that can be approached by epidemiologists, sociologists, and other experts. Many of the most interesting posts about drug addiction on MeFi take a personal, intimate viewpoint. "Drug addiction in Russia" is a pretty impenetrable and abstract topic for a US layman. I just don't think the MeFi hive mind really has the tools to present this topic fairly. Let's go back to talking about kittens and pinball.
posted by Nomyte at 4:57 PM on October 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Potomac, I can see what you were trying to do with the framing of the post (and I appreciate that you clarified your intent in the thread).

I'm not sure that it worked in this instance, because (1) the irony obscured your point and (2) the sources you used were a bit wobbly in terms of accuracy.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:59 PM on October 16, 2013


While I can understand that Potomac Avenue might have bought into the fearmongering a bit, I for one am grateful when someone warns me about nightmare fuel before clicking on something. But then I'm still trying to forget vivid, full-color images I saw of skin disorders in medical journals when my college job was scanning articles for Interlibrary Loan. I ration my sanity points carefully now.
posted by JHarris at 5:02 PM on October 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


What we need here is a volunteer editorial service.

I am willing to offer my services in comments, posts and AskMe.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:05 PM on October 16, 2013


WARNING LINK CONTAINS HYSTERIA DO NOT CLICK
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:06 PM on October 16, 2013


I am willing to offer my services in comments, posts and AskMe.

How bout you stick to editing the Metafilter Magazine back into existence
oooooooh burn.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:07 PM on October 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


WARNING LINK CONTAINS LIVE MASS HYSTERIA DO NOT CLICK
posted by ApathyGirl at 5:16 PM on October 16, 2013


I kinda feel like anything that starts out with "***WARNING ALL LINKS IN THIS POST POTENTIAL NIGHTMARE FUEL***" is probably a good candidate for [This is not a good post for MetaFilter.]
posted by Sys Rq at 5:27 PM on October 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


What, you mean there isn't some horrible superdrug sweeping flyover country like something out of Robocop 3 that we can't get all smarmy and squeamish about?

Good thing experts like the fabulous gingerbeer are still around here, willing to risk some of the pitfalls associated with trying to correct ignorance on the public internet.
posted by planetesimal at 5:37 PM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Am in meatpacking district, will report back re: availability of Krockodile.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:44 PM on October 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Pretty sure it's New York's hottest club, be careful.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:53 PM on October 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


> What, you mean there isn't some horrible superdrug sweeping flyover country like something out of Robocop 3 that we can't get all smarmy and squeamish about?

Wait, there was a RoboCop 3?
posted by mrzarquon at 5:56 PM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, where's the post about kittens and pinball?
posted by slogger at 5:59 PM on October 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hey, thanks, everyone. I've spent a bunch of time in the last week or so addressing krokodil hysteria on fb and other places, and talking about the drug panic aspects of it with colleagues, so all those links were close at hand. Also, hysterical, uncritical news reporting about drugs and people who use them really pisses me off, personally and professionally. Things that add stigma to people who use drugs make my job harder.

Happy I could add some better information to the conversation and that people appreciated the links.
posted by gingerbeer at 5:59 PM on October 16, 2013 [35 favorites]


So far I saw an actual crocodile in the back of a bodega. Still no drugs.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:02 PM on October 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


The drugs are in the croc's belly.
posted by planetesimal at 6:11 PM on October 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


He can keep them.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:15 PM on October 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


327 FPP's by Potomac Avenue with a few deleted and a few not well recieved.

"...joking about drug abuse and addiction." is of course not funny. But I vote we don't make this about Potomac Avenue. Maybe just chalk it up to the eternal October.
posted by vapidave at 6:15 PM on October 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


And if you do want to know about drug use in Russia, I linked to some good sources in this post a while back and can post more. It's not all that abstract.
posted by gingerbeer at 6:16 PM on October 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Kittehs try to play pinball, are disappoint
posted by lwb at 6:21 PM on October 16, 2013 [13 favorites]


Okay, now I want a pinball game for our cats. Those clips are awesome.
posted by gingerbeer at 6:26 PM on October 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Human nature has an inherent need to create some hysteria if it doesn't exist already, because our default nature is not to be content with a utopian ideal. We think we'd like it, but then we find that we seek some purpose to justify earning it, so soapboxes start to materialize out of the quieter news days, and they aren't always good ones. Or put another way, we seek a life purpose, and people will make it where we haven't always legitimately found it. (Not Potomac Avenue, by the way; he simply aggregated the hysteria.)

Seriously, I think there are dissertations to be written on the psychological and cyclical nature of these kinds of things.
posted by SpacemanStix at 6:31 PM on October 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Maybe just chalk it up to the eternal October.

Hey, don't look at me.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:33 PM on October 16, 2013 [18 favorites]


So far I saw an actual crocodile in the back of a bodega. Still no drugs.
posted by Ad hominem


That croc is protecting the drugs.
posted by spitbull at 6:52 PM on October 16, 2013


327 FPP's by Potomac Avenue with a few deleted and a few not well received.

That's true of many users with long posting histories. A couple of mine were deleted, certainly. Your point?
posted by JHarris at 6:59 PM on October 16, 2013


Hate the post love the poster.
posted by vapidave at 7:28 PM on October 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


But I vote we don't make this about Potomac Avenue.

That was certainly not my intention at all. Sounds like he got as much out of the FPP as anyone else did, cf Gingerbeer's comments.
posted by smoke at 7:30 PM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


WARNING LINK CONTAINS BRASS WISTERIA DO NOT CLICK
posted by gauche at 7:32 PM on October 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


I saw a crocodile at Trader Vic's. His hair was perfect.
posted by jenkinsEar at 8:09 PM on October 16, 2013 [13 favorites]


But I vote we don't make this about Potomac Avenue.

That was certainly not my intention at all. Sounds like he got as much out of the FPP as anyone else did, cf Gingerbeer's comments.
posted by smoke at 9:30 PM on October 16 [1 favorite −] Favorite added! [!]

I apologize. I thought it was an odd and unsuported post but it so often happens that the poster, as opposed to those that post responses become the target of blame. Responsiblity is borne on all sides. I didn't mean my above quoted statement as an indictment of this Meta or your motivation. I meant it as a well, fuck, we're all allowed to fuck up one every once in a while. Otherwise FPP's will be limited to people that are willing to bear the scrutiny of thousands of anonymous strangers whose opinion they respect. I think we may be missing out here. But again, I apologize.
posted by vapidave at 8:10 PM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


"What the shizzle my October-nizzle"
-Snoopzilla waxing gibbous
posted by vozworth at 8:22 PM on October 16, 2013


so soapboxes start to materialize out of the quieter news days

I do sort of get an ominous feeling when we go for week or so without any contentious MeTas. It feels like something is building up and the longer it does, the more monstrous the storm is going to be.
posted by elizardbits at 8:56 PM on October 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


Um...I think the MeTa directly below this one could safely be classed as 'contentious'. If that was just a precursor to the real storm, I'm going out and building a bunker.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:03 PM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Kittehs try to play pinball yt , are disappoint yt

Damn, multiball, you crazy.
posted by maryr at 9:29 PM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but the 2 weeks leading up to that meta and a couple of others this week featured minimally confrontational stuff. And it felt like portents of DOOOOOM.
posted by elizardbits at 9:33 PM on October 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


> And if you do want to know about drug use in Russia, I linked to some good sources in this post a while back and can post more. It's not all that abstract.

Well, no, but as conversational fodder on MeFi? Some things lend themselves to smalltalk easily. Other things not so much. There was another FPP about something in Russia today, and what comments there are are kind of all over the place. Not in a hurtful way, just in an uninformed or semi-uninformed "shootin' the wind" sort of way. People in MeFi have had some training to tread carefully when shootin' the wind on some topics that are personal for the majority of Mefites. Threads about something happening somewhere abroad just tend to have a lower signal-to-noise ratio. "Crazy drugs from Russia!!!" happens to be one of those topics.
posted by Nomyte at 10:11 PM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


That croc is protecting the drugs.

You are Lauren Beukes and I claim my paranormal animal partner in crime.
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:23 PM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought the post was newsy but it lead to gingerbeer's comment, which is the sort of thing I hang around this place for.

From a spreading-good-information standpoint I think it is far better to leave the thread intact with the rebuttal in place. After the post scrolls off the front page the majority of people who arrive there will do so from search engines and it seems like a good thing that those search terms lead them to some clear information.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:24 AM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


From a spreading-good-information standpoint I think it is far better to leave the thread intact with the rebuttal in place.

I'm inclined to agree - it evolved into something substantive and interesting. If anyone wants to close this up, that's fine by me.
posted by smoke at 12:34 AM on October 17, 2013


I also agree, and I'm cool with closing this, but since it's middle-of-the-night US, will leave it for morning mods just in case anyone who hasn't had the chance has anything they'd like to add.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:49 AM on October 17, 2013


Crap my first meta call out in a few years and it's closing already. Uhhhh no, wait This Is Bullshit yalll can't tell me what to do, Russians are 70% android and USA Today is the only news source I trust! The mods are part of the Mob if you're dyslexic! Does any one want to buy any Kratom? Kanye is racist! Pancakes cause cancer! Don't let the sun go down on meeee...
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:16 AM on October 17, 2013 [12 favorites]


While it's still open: Drug addiction is not funny in itself. However, the media's attitude towards drug abuse and addiction, as well as the attitudes of governments in many so-called developed nations, are fully within the realm of what I consider to be "you have to laugh or you'll cry" kind of territory. Joking about that kind of thing doesn't mean you don't take addiction seriously, it's just a way to cope with the brokenness of the systems that surround us.
posted by Sequence at 3:23 AM on October 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'd like to add that when I saw this elsewhere, I was horrified, so finding it on Metafilter with gingerbeer's comment was enlightening. I reminded me to be vigilant about the news I consume, even if its not an email forward from my mother.
posted by yeti at 4:36 AM on October 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


So far I saw an actual crocodile in the back of a bodega.

Probably just crawled out of the sewer where all the others live.
posted by TedW at 4:54 AM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of the things I like about coming to Metafilter is when someone posts a link to an article or articles and then the comments in the thread tell my why said articles are not to be trusted. I learn a shit-ton when that happens and then I am filled with ammunition for when certain people in my life point to those same articles as proof of the world ending or The Children spontaneously combusting or whatever.

This is a very valuable service Metafilter provides.
posted by bondcliff at 6:31 AM on October 17, 2013 [29 favorites]


I didn't really get the tone of the FPP, hence my comment early on and confused reluctance to click on any links. It wasn't necessarily a bad post; just couldn't get a handle on it (take seriously, mock the media, or what).

The comment by GingerBeer, which came up the same time as mine, helped. Think in future when confused by a post in this way will just quietly hang off a while and, as bondcliff suggests, see how the comments reflect on the stuff linked from the post.
posted by Wordshore at 6:41 AM on October 17, 2013


I agree with bondcliff. The post in question consisted of links to various major news outlets, where the drug is referred to as "flesh-eating" and other nonsense. Informed MeFites definitely provide a service to the community at large, many of whom do read news sites where such breathless hysteria is spouted without verification from equally informed professionals.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:50 AM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Funny and horrifying are not mutually exclusive states. Neither are funny and serious.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:32 AM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hey, at least it didn't contain pictures of spiders.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:39 AM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I for one am grateful when someone warns me about nightmare fuel before clicking on something.

Oh God, I remember a thread on another board about caviar manicures - basically, glueing small beads to your fingernails. Someone said that it triggered their trypophobia (fear of small holes closely packed together, like a crumpet) and rather than explaining what that word denotes, they made it a link to a Google image search on the word. The thread got pulled in the end after many comments along the lines of 'wtf that's the most revolting thing I've ever seen!'
posted by mippy at 8:57 AM on October 17, 2013


Ooh! The tapeworms in your brain thread last year! Gah!!!!
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:20 AM on October 17, 2013


> Well, no, but as conversational fodder on MeFi? Some things lend themselves to smalltalk easily. Other things not so much. There was another FPP about something in Russia today, and what comments there are are kind of all over the place. Not in a hurtful way, just in an uninformed or semi-uninformed "shootin' the wind" sort of way.

What's your point? We shouldn't have posts about Russia, because most MeFites don't know enough about Russia to discuss it with the acuity and experience of a Russian? That would logically lead to having only posts about kittens and Apple products. It was (in my opinion) an amazingly good piece for the usually dependably ignorant (about Russia) NYT, and it's (again in my opinion) a good thing for MeFites to be exposed to even if they don't have brilliant comments to make about it. What exactly are you advocating? Or does your comment just boil down to LOLMEFITES?
posted by languagehat at 10:31 AM on October 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


I appreciated the post and the comments. Perhaps while the content in the links in the FPP were "media pandering," the comments, even the Lulz ones, served to overwhelmingly indicate that this drug isn't all that the media is wishing it was, which in turn, helps me to make a better informed opinion of the seriousness of the issue. Additionally, with the counterpoint that the serious posts provided, I think all around it was a personally informative experience.


I find nothing distasteful about jokes about addiction, provided the intent isn't to cause harm. Addiction can be terribly funny, and for some, it is an intrinsic part of the recovery process. People under the influence do tragically hilarious things, and while it's tasteless to provide specifics regarding someone, unless the "joke" is a story from one's own experience, funny is funny.... But to each his/her own.
posted by Debaser626 at 11:47 AM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


What exactly are you advocating? Or does your comment just boil down to LOLMEFITES?

My point is that it doesn't make sense to expect informed, erudite commentary from Mefites on topics they've had very limited experience with, whether that's drug abuse trends in Russia or Tocharian A. When we get them, they're a bonus, not the minimum baseline.
posted by Nomyte at 11:55 AM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I find nothing distasteful about jokes about addiction, provided the intent isn't to cause harm.

I don't disagree, in theory, and would never suggest that someone's own coping mechanism for themselves is out of line. However we're in a situation of incomplete information here and while making light of ones own addiction or personal circumstances is one thing, making fun of someone else who is grappling with a problem, a problem we may have little or no personal experience with, is a different thing. Without more and better information it's sometimes impossible to tell which if these things people are doing.

Making fun of someone's pain from a safe, removed position is generally though of to be not cool, absent extenuating circumstances. And it's unclear from some of these comments what angle the commenters are coming at the topic from.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:55 AM on October 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


first up, thanks to GingerBeer for weighing in, and to smoke for this META. Because this drug hysteria stuff isn't just wrongheaded in all manner of ways, it's also been known to have a precisely opposite effect from what it's intending. And indeed, Erowid's got an article about Denver's classic glue sniffing epidemic in the early 1960s.

How to launch a nationwide drug menace

A yellow brick road to hell, that one.

"Don't do it kids!"
"Don't do what?"
"Sniff glue."
"Why would we sniff glue?"
"To get high."
"Glue gets you high? Cool."
posted by philip-random at 3:02 PM on October 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


Heh -- yeah, we were just talking about that exact example of the phenomenon yesterday. Coverage of drug-related issues is so prone to bad reporting.

Here are a couple of good places to go for some quick fact-checking or for better reporting:

#1 is erowid. Earth and Fire, who run it (yes, those are their names) have created a really valuable service. It's not perfect, but it's the best compilation of realistic and unbiased information about drugs, and the crowd-sourced model works well for what it is. I link to it on here all the time.

Mefi's own maias is one of the best popular science writers around. Her writing on the Time website and The Fix is excellent.

The Fix in general has pretty good reporting on drugs and related issues.
posted by gingerbeer at 3:45 PM on October 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


The Fix in general has pretty good reporting on drugs and related issues.

I like The Fix a lot for the mix of articles and quality of the writing, but discovered just now how awful their comments section is. Looks to be unmoderated and full of angry addicts telling one another to fuck off and go get drunk. It's like the comments on a politics.cnn link, except about who's destroying recovery instead of who's destroying America. Disheartening.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:02 PM on October 17, 2013


Don't know about the comments, but the articles at The Fix so far have been great. "How Addiction Treatment Killed Cory Monteith" is an amazing, sharp, provocative read:

Monteith took the deadliest possible combination—alcohol and heroin, whose actions to slow breathing are not additive but multiple—at the deadliest possible time. He was likely not informed about the risk because abstinence-focused rehabs typically don’t provide harm reduction advice. He certainly was not provided with maintenance medication like methadone or buprenorphine that can dramatically reduce that risk; he may not even have know that maintenance was an option—just as Cobain was told he could not take any more opioids, even for his chronic pain. Nor, apparently, were Monteith or his loved ones given naloxone, which can reverse opioid overdose, or instructed on how to use it.

And this is where stigma, and the fact that addiction medicine generally isn’t practiced like real medicine, take over.

In no other type of treatment are FDA-approved medications seen as appropriate to withhold—without even informing the patient of their existence. No cancer center in the US provides only chemo while refusing to inform patients about radiation treatment or putting it down as something “we don’t believe in here” because it is “cheating” rather than “real recovery.” But the equivalent is done in addiction treatment—even for celebrities—every day. If we don’t want to keep losing patients, we’ve got to actually treat addiction like a disease, by providing evidence-based treatment, not just repeating faith-based philosophies.

posted by mediareport at 7:24 PM on October 17, 2013 [22 favorites]


An article by maias. And never read the comments! Anywhere other than metafilter.
posted by gingerbeer at 7:56 PM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


My comment remark was only desparaging of the commentors. As a person "in recovery," I was a little dismayed that those comments were written by me so- called peers. Maias is indeed doing great work. Avoid Comments is my new twitter inspiration.
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:40 AM on October 18, 2013


I find it a little amusing that the comments at The Fix make me want to be not sober more than just about anything else. But then I realize that not everybody can laugh it off and it makes me sad.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:21 AM on October 18, 2013


So far I saw an actual crocodile in the back of a bodega. Still no drugs.
posted by Ad hominem

That croc is protecting the drugs.


Miami Vice makes so much more sense now.
posted by eddydamascene at 8:55 AM on October 18, 2013


9 Times The Media Got It Woefully Wrong About Drugs (warning: Buzzfeed) I could certainly think of a few more, but that's an entertaining list.
posted by gingerbeer at 10:47 AM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


@Vice_Is_Hip
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:45 PM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


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