Reply to post: Re: Smoking

Here's why online social networks are bad for humanity, the nerds who helped build them tut-tut

Michael Wojcik Silver badge

Re: Smoking

Smoking was cool. Imagine James Dean and the Marlboro Man.

Partly because smoking enables a number of behaviors that support being perceived as "cool" - i.e. as unflappable, reserved, competent, etc.

Nicotine has a calming effect. The act of smoking provides a number of excuses to pause conversation: taking a puff and exhaling, taking out a cigarette and lighting it,[1] stubbing one out. That gives the smoker time to think of a particularly witty comment or retort, so smoking is a way to cover up momentary confusion or upset. Cigarettes in particular provide fodder for introductions and starting conversations, such as offering or asking for a cigarette or a light. They're an excuse to join a group or leave one ("I'm just stepping out for a smoke").

It's a pity smoking is so toxic and otherwise undesirable (stains, odor, etc), because it's tremendously useful, socially. Unlike "social" media, which has profoundly antisocial effects.

[1] And even more so for cigars and pipes, with their even more elaborate preparation rituals.

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