Vice Squad
Monday, May 10, 2004
Blogging is the Crack Cocaine of Web Publishing

It seems that whenever someone wants to emphasize the reinforcing qualities of a good or an activity, or just its undesirability, the phrase "the crack cocaine of [fill in the blank]" is likely to emerge. In yesterday's excellent Times Magazine story on slot machines, it is noted that "Anti-gambling activists refer to slots as 'the crack cocaine of gambling.'" A quick Google search reveals that spam is the crack cocaine of modern advertising; video lottery terminals are the crack cocaine of gambling; casinos are the crack cocaine of gambling; cybersex is spiritual crack cocaine, even for women; and of course, our nation's drug czar, Mr. Walters, finds Canadian hydroponic cannabis to be "the crack of marijuana."

One of the interesting elements concerning the common use of the crack cocaine metaphor is just how darn unpopular crack cocaine actually is. In commenting on the recent Reinarman et al. paper finding that decriminalization does not seem to increase the prevalence of use of currently illicit drugs, Pete Guither at Drug WarRant reproduces a chart on the consumption of various drugs in San Francisco and Amsterdam. In San Francisco, 1.1 percent of those surveyed had used crack in the past three months; in Amsterdam, 0.5 percent had used crack in the past three months. The survey group consisted only of folks who had used significant amounts of marijuana during their lifetime.


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