I have certain things in my reality that affirm that I am crazy. We all do, I think. Or at least I think that to make myself feel better. Life is hard. We all know that. We don’t need a headshrinker to tell us that. We sure as shit don’t need a stranger to tell us that, nor do we need a commercial for a drug company to convince us that our ‘blues’ are actually a super hardcore, Him fan type of, cut my arms to get attention depression. I’m jaded, but I doubt there is anyone walking on this dying rock that has lived all of his days without a feeling of isolation, or misunderstanding, or genuine sorrow. It’s OK. We’re allowed. There’s that whole sweet without the bitter, light without dark, happy without sad idea, but that’s an over simplification of things. Sometimes things just suck, and that’s the way it is. It’s like when I’m outside in the winter smoking a cigarette without a jacket. Someone will say, “Aren’t you cold?” And I’ll say, “It’s OK. I’ll be warm again.”
We deal with things differently, and that’s what makes life slightly more interesting and less of a patent rule for all. I modify to become more comfortable in my skin because the skin that wraps my poorly oiled moving parts is a source of pain and strife. So I modify. I allow people to stick needles through it and insert jewelry and ink into it to make it more of a something with which I can agree. Does that speak to my crazy? Does that speak to my deviance? Does that speak to my misanthropy? The Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics may think so.
The journal has published findings of a study that included people like you and me as little, modded lab gerbils. Though, according to the summation of the study, there is no concrete evidence that metal illness and modification are bedfellows, conclusions drawn from twenty-three studies point to that summation.
The studies suggested that fourteen percent of the general populous is modified with piercing, and fifty one percent of teens and young adults wear the mods. This data is not very interesting. My summation is that more people are modded, and I look on that data as a positive acceptance of our culture by the majority of young people and a selected population of adults. The study continued, however, to explain that more girls and women are modified with piercing over men and boys; but the study suggested clearly that with the women and girls, the likelihood of deviant behaviors is escalated in those dames with piercings.
What kind of behaviors? Booze, cigarettes, and drugs. In today’s society, that doesn’t really grab my attention. I think I know more drunks than sobers, more smokers than non, and more people high on junk than not. It’s a different society than it used to be, I guess. Even though in our parents’ generation, people seemed to be stoned more than not. The additional deviant behaviors listed were more vexing. High risk sex, problem gambling, and (wait for it) Russian roulette. The study actually listed Russian roulette. It didn’t explain if that was a euphemism for something else, but I have to assume that it is placing one bullet into the chamber of a revolver and testing fate, like that scene in “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.” That idea is terribly disturbing. Maybe I had a sheltered youth, but I have never entertained the idea, nor known anyone who has entertained the idea, of playing Russian roulette.
The study also submitted that those with modifications are more likely to engage in antisocial behavior, verbal expression of anger, and are those who are more likely to engage in behavior that is impulsive. Again my point of view may be skewed, but I am wont to believe that the majority of youth, especially those in high school, are those who think that whatever issue they have has only happened to them and no one else can understand. Teen living is hard, at least I remember it being hard. I was never a terribly popular kid in the hip, WB teen drama kind of way. Everyone knew who I was because I can get along with anyone, but I wasn’t the high school quarterback. Shit, I wasn’t even the head cheerleader. The need to be alone, I think, is something that every teen seeks at some point. He shuts his door, turns an Alice In Chains record on stupidly loud, and sits in his room brooding about whatever it is he’s brooding about. Isn’t that what being a teenager is all about? It seemed to me growing up that those with more artistic points of view were those who were more misanthropic, but also those who were healthier in their own heads. The more concerning kids were the ones drinking Pabst in the woods by the tracks and dropping acid and fucking whomever. And they were often the more popular kids, the more social kids, the kids that wanted to talk to everyone and host parties.
The expression of anger thing is a little dicier. I’m not entirely sure that modification and anger relate all that much, but that is coming from someone who has a genuine anger problem. I’m angry all of the time. There are less times that I am not angry than when I am. It’s something I’m learning to control, like a pubescent mutant in the reality of the X-Men. So I think I’m too skewed to make a judgement about that. Impulsive behavior among modified people I can buy. Sometimes, and I would find it very unlikely for you kids to disagree, you feel the need one day after waking up to get pierced. I need a piercing today, let’s go get one. I have done that more than several times. The spontaneity of a piercing mod can be very fun. I don’t often think I am terribly spontaneous in other aspects of my life. I’m not the type to say, ‘let’s drain the bank account and head to Alaska this weekend.’ I am actually envious of those who participate in those kinds of behaviors. Of course, I’d need the money to do that. Maybe if I had the money I’d be more likely to do something like that. But the assertion that modified people are more impulsive makes some sense.
The studies also pointed toward affinity to modification and a relationship with psychopathological symptoms, but quickly qualifies that this data may be skewed by the sample set. I have heard these types of studies before, and I can understand the concluded data. I’m not debating the validity of these studies, nor am I attempting to agree or debunk them. They are interesting. The study of why people do the shit that they do is a fascinating study because there will never be concrete and indisputable data proving one thing or the other. I do think that there is likely something similar in our make ups that instigate our interest in the culture of modification. I resolve that that common interest and familiar music to all of our ears is our desire to explore beauty in a way that is truly unique to our own. Our bodies are our only true possession. It is a something that is not bought nor sold, is not invented nor designed. It just is. Yeah, I know; your folks did a thing and then you came out. You’re made, I got it. I don’t have to be a parent to understand that. But as far as your own personal reality is concerned, you always were and you will be until you are not. That’s where my head is in that statement. With that said, the only thing you can do to augment what has been saran wrapped around whatever it is that makes you go is to dress, to paint, to tattoo, and to pierce. Of course you could cut, and restrict, and whore, and murder too; but those things don’t celebrate the self in the same way as I think we are inclined to do. We are all for celebration, aren’t we. We see these tiny little pieces of person that would otherwise go unnoticed until a piece of shiny thing is rooted into it. Now that tiny piece of unnoticed person is beautiful. How wonderfully simple. We made an earlobe beautiful. We made a tragus beautiful. We made a hood, a nipple, a navel, an eyebrow, a nostril, an otherwise uninhabited and forgotten swatch of flesh on the nape of the neck beautiful. Are we crazy? Yeah, maybe a little. But who isn’t? Stay beautiful, kids.
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