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An Ode To Peer Pressure

Brad Hunt, 15, US

Peer Pressure. If there is a phrase I could definitely do
without hearing for the rest of my life, it's "peer pressure." From the time we enter grade school, we are taught the perils of succumbing to the influence of our friends. We are informed that by associating with the "wrong crowd," we will end up working the graveyard shift at Kinko's in order to pay for our addiction to heroine and support our ex-girlfriend and her prematurely born crack-baby.

I think the concept of peer pressure has become a gross exaggeration of the true consequences of friends. By forcing the idea that the very people you hang out with are out to destroy you, those responsible for teaching my generation about life have unintentionally produced a generation of what I like to call, "instant messengers." Instead of running the risk of being influenced in a negative way by other human beings, we sit alone on Friday nights and communicate with each other via the all-powerful and somewhat-dependable modem. Not once in my experience with a modem has it leaned over and whispered, "Hey man, want to try something that'll really mess you up?" Unlike some of my friends, never once has my laptop insisted,"No, no. Pot actually makes you smarter!"

But is this really the approach that should be taken? Is the slight
chance that you might be given the opportunity to indulge in some illegal substance worth the isolation that it seems many expect us to live in? I have a better idea. Instead of living your life in a bubble and only responding to people who address you by the name "kewl_dude643," try learning the one word which seems to eliminate peer pressure on contact: "No." It actually works quite simply. If you're not sure of your ability to use this word, test yourself with the following question: "Hey man, we're gonna go pound a couple 40s, inhale the freon from my car, take some random pills from various unmarked prescription bottles, get high and drive around, then go watch a movie. Wanna come?"

Your Response:
A. Yes
B. No
C. Yes, only if the movie is "Dude, Where's My Car?"
D. Mr. President, don't you have work to do?
(For answer see the bottom of the page)

It's hard to appreciate the joys that come from having friends when you are too afraid to make any. So my challenge to all of you is to take a risk, unplug your computers, and go do something worthwhile with some worthwhile people this weekend. If your friends are anything like mine, then I guarantee you'll have some great people to share with the boredom and dullness that is life as a teenager (unless, of course, you'll be spending Friday night working the graveyard shift at Kinko's in order to feed your family and heroine addiction. In which case disregard everything you have
just read.)

(Answers B or D would be acceptable.)