Social Media and Substance Abuse

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Substance Abuse: Past and Current Trends of Celebrity Use and Media Reporting University of Phoenix
Chemical Dependency in the Workplace
Todd Holman
Nov 07, 2009

Substance abuse in America ebbs and flows from generation to generation. However, the exposure of todays generation to much more than past generations due to the dramatic increase in the availability of information through news media both on television and the internet. Americans have reached a time in which substance abuse by celebrities is seen, via these outlets, with little to no legal repercussions and at times elevating those involved to new heights of stardom. Even those not in the celebrity limelight are influenced by “reality” shows. These shows promote the average Joe to celebrity status often by showing “real life” scenarios that include the use of alcohol and drugs. This almost unobscured access into the sometimes illegal and immoral parts of celebrities and non-celebrities private lives has influenced the landscape of what is considered socially and morally acceptable levels of substance abuse. Celebrities vs. Reality TV Stars

Celebrity status used to be defined as actors and actresses, singers, musicians, athletes, and politicians. Most Americans saw these celebrities as untouchable because their only exposure to them was via movies, traditional news media such as newspaper and magazines and television. During the early 1990s Music Television (MTV) began a new show called The Real World in which they moved a group of young adults into a house and followed them on camera (The Real World: New York, 1992). Those watching saw the ‘reality’ of what happens when people of varying cultures, beliefs, race, gender and sexual preference living together and thus the door to reality television was open. The average American could now associate with these reality show celebrities on a different level and even aspire to be of celebrity status without possessing any acting, singing, sports, or political abilities. Since their inception, reality shows have grown and evolved as American television watchers have demanded more dramatic and realistic situations. These much demanded overly dramatic, highly emotional situations often involve substance abuse and sexuality and in order to promote the realness of the show, cast members are regularly shown using and abusing alcohol. This again only helps average Americans associate with these reality television stars and their substance abuse. Reality shows crossed the bridge to overlap media types similar to the way news sources have by pushing their content to the Internet, thus creating a greater viewing base. As a means to achieve fame and celebrity status many young Americans began videotaping themselves doing day to day act ivies, including the substance abuse they have been exposed to, often uploading these videos to sites such as YouTube, MySpace, and Facebook. Reality shows have survived on the premise that the more outrageous the cast members on the show, the more viewers they received. This thought process leads vulnerable Americans toward a belief that the more outrageous they act the more celebrity status they can achieve and when one is abusing drugs or alcohol, acting skills are not necessary. News, Media and Social Networking

The ability of Americans to access information is unlike any other time in history. Computers and the Internet are at the hub of news, communication and education with social networking media such as Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter leading the way. With just the sheer volume of users, two years ago Myspace estimated 80 to 90 million users (Topper, 2007) whereas just last month Twitter reported 55 million unique visitors each month (Lashinsky, 2009), the dissemination of news and events, particularly that of...
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