Gosh, somebody is wrong on the internet

I just got sucked into the silliest online argument…

A friend shared one of my posts. One of the points in that post was the reality of meth addiction. I’m not going to go and read it again because it was written a long time ago, but it came down my criticism of the series Breaking Bad, which I never watched.

I criticized the show for romanticising the usage and the manufacture of methamphetamine. The reason for that section of the post was merely to point out the reality, as I know it to be. And the reality is, meth users tweak. They spend most of their time doing nothing at all. They spend most of their time delayed. For instance, a meth addict might spend three or four hours on combing his hair, or packing and repacking a desk drawer, or searching for something in the drawer. Searching is the worst… You get stuck on trying to find something, then search and research the same place for it, neither seeing that it is there right in front of you (in the case that it is), nor searching anywhere else. Like everything else you do on meth, for a while it becomes an obsession, and you can’t stop (and don’t want to stop) compulsively doing whatever you are stuck on doing. It’s like a computer program stuck in an endless loop, repetitively doing the same thing, which achieves nothing, in endless iterations until somebody kills the task.

Meth cooks are the same. They also end up addicted, because meth is such a dangerous substance, everybody directly involved with it ends up using it. So a realistic show about meth cooks would involve a lot of sitting around, much staring into space, much talking nonsense, some poor fool counting and recounting his money over and over again, and people acting like clowns, but it would feature little action. Mostly it would feature someone walking around his or her house for several hours, busying him or herself with mundane tasks. It wouldn’t air past the pilot episode, because it would be the most boring show you ever saw.

The person arguing with me made a smug and dismissive comment about not wanting to guess which fallacy this is… And the fallacy is: fallacy of composition. Yes, I didn’t watch the show. Yes, I don’t know every meth cook on the planet, so you can argue that I’m applying the little that I do know, the part, to that which I do not know, the whole.

However, I have known a few meth cooks, many meth addicts, many meth dealers, and several cops who dealt directly with meth. They all had one thing in common: They all became meth addicts. That’s just the way it is. If you handle the substance at all, sooner or later, you use it. And therein lies the problem… Meth seems great when you first try it. You feel alert and super-confident, as well as happy. However, the euphoria of a meth high is not as intense as popular fiction would have you believe. It’s subtle. You might not even notice it. But it’s just enough for you to try it again, especially after the first or second use has no consequences. But meth is pernicious, and sooner or later, almost everybody who uses it ends up with the symptoms I’ve briefly described above. Unfortunately though, when you deal with it, you don’t see others in the worst of the states of meth addiction. You see the positive side, the energy, the apparent benefits of the drug. Seeing that is enough to get you to try that first hit. And it only takes one hit to start the ball rolling.

I know of one person who used meth who did not end up an addict. One.

I’m not saying nobody makes money off meth. Obviously people do, but not the ones who deal directly with it. And I don’t know everybody who deals with meth, but I met enough people in the 8 years or so of my addiction to make these generalisations. I’ve seen what it does, and it isn’t pretty.

In short, I understand what happens to people who deal directly with meth, because I have seen it many times. Once exposed to users, using becomes acceptable, group dynamics come into play and you become a user yourself. I don’t need to know all about meth cooks to conclude that they are all addicts too. Heck, most of them probably get into it because they want to make meth for themselves.

I wonder why some people always argue online. It makes sense if you are an expert, but arguing with what you feel is correct, against somebody who actually does have knowledge, is just silly.

A tactic employed by the person who argued today, and I hadn’t seen this one before, was a bait-and-switch technique: Attack my statement about a TV show that romanticized meth use (claiming that it does not), then after I answer, switch the argument to the fallacy about meth cooks. (My argument only appeared fallacious. It was based on what I know about meth and those directly involved with it. I don’t have to know all meth cooks to know what happens to people who cook meth, any more than I have to study all aspects of the Bible to conclude that it is nonsense.) Note that was two different arguments, neither of which was relevant to the main focus of my original post. I’ll be sure to remember the technique, and use it if ever I feel like trolling anyone. That is, attack them on one front, and if they reply with anything rational such that the current line of reasoning might not work, switch to a tangentially related, but different argument. That way the person never gets to make their full case, because the goal posts of the argument move before they can.

(Seriously, I’d hate to debate anyone who uses the bait-and-switch technique. It’s likely to be highly effective at satisfying the confirmation bias of any listeners/readers who agree with the person who does it, and might fool others who don’t recognize that the tactic is being used.)


About Jerome

I am a senior C# developer in Johannesburg, South Africa. I am also a recovering addict, who spent nearly eight years using methamphetamine. I write on my recovery blog about my lessons learned and sometimes give advice to others who have made similar mistakes, often from my viewpoint as an atheist, and I also write some C# programming articles on my programming blog.
This entry was posted in Addiction, Methamphetamine, Skepticism and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Gosh, somebody is wrong on the internet

  1. I’ve watched Breaking Bad. I actually found it quite difficult to watch. It wasn’t boring but in some ways it did glorify “meth culture”. For me, that made it hard to watch. Although working with meth addicts all day, I’m not curious in the least about the drug. I’ve heard too many messed up stories from my students. I find that often my students will tell me that they started by just dealing, but eventually ended up using. I’ve only taught one user that claimed he was in control of his meth use. He claimed to sleep at night and function normally. I took it with a grain of salt and after reading your blog, I’m wondering if he just thinks he is functioning normally, when really he isn’t.

    I find what you say about cops interesting, did you encounter many cops that also used themselves?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jerome says:

      I met many dealers who started dealing and ended up using. I think it’s the norm, and it isn’t unreasonable to assume that the same is true for meth cooks. I only met one meth cook, who was using, and had a commenter on the old blog who was also a meth cook, who spent time in jail and was also an addict. His story led me to conclude that cooks also end up addicts.

      I didn’t meet that many cops who used, but there were a few. I was harassed once in cape Town by 2 cops who were obviously high. One of the first people I met when I started using was a cop who was suspended because of his addiction. And when I used to attend NA meetings I heard stories of other cops who used. Lastly, the other program I had to complete to comply with a court order before reunification with my son could commence was a “diversion program”. Two of the other attendees were cops.

      So I do believe that meth is bad all around like that. Everybody who deals with it directly ends up using, and using meth is a one way ticket to a living hell.

      I did use and maintain control for a while, but it required me to redefine what both control and normal meant. In my last two years in active addiction, I used and slept every night, and performed well enough at work, but there were consequences, which got incrementally worse. And of course my son was already in foster care, so I was supposed to go for regular tests before being able to see him. I used to stay clean just for a week every now and then, so that I could see him. But sometimes I’d even get that wrong. At the time, I thought I was in control, but in retrospect I was not.

      So I think that guy was in denial. He probably didn’t have as much control as he thought he had. Also the effects of meth are so severe and last so long, it’s impossible to use it without it affecting every aspect of your life, so he was just fooling himself.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well I think being in jail is an indication that life isn’t being managed as well as one might think.

        To me, it is similar to the argument “my parents used physical punishment on me and I turned out OK” when you are sitting in my anger management class in jail, in on an assault charge. I sometime challenge that with, “Did you really?” I don’t believe most people end up in jail by accident.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jerome says:

          Oh, I didn’t realize that your students were prisoners. Yah, I think by definition his use was not in control if he ended up in jail. Unless he considers it normal to be a criminal.

          I knew many people who were involved in crime, through my drug usage in Cape Town. None up here in Johannesburg because I was very careful not to involve myself with other addicts, but in the first few years of my using, I knew many such people. Often they spoke about control, and how to control using, and how to control others, but none of them were what I’d call normal.

          Liked by 1 person

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