I’m just going to say it: I hate, loathe, despise, and other rancorous verbs, the entire concept of, and commercial for, 5-Hour Energy. If you haven’t seen it, you can check several out here; they’re all pretty bad. My objection? Basically, we have a national television spot cheerfully advertising legal uppers, recommending that if people are tired, all they need to do is take this substance, and they can easily work past their bodies’ natural limits. They suggest, repeatedly, that this is something you can, and should, do every day. Every day.
If someone tried to run an ad for more traditional chemicals of this type, saying “When I’m tired in the afternoon, I find coke helps me get the job done,” or “When I don’t have time for sleep, crystal meth works for me,” (ignoring for the moment that meth might be what’s interfering with your sleep to begin with), the ad would be pulled immediately, and criminal charges brought, in all probability. But because we’ve been happily coexisting forever with a milder version in the form of coffee, tea, and sodas, this slope was particularly well greased already; I don’t imagine it would take most people much nudging to slip down it.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I think it’s the sign of a pretty sick culture when people are so tired and worn down that the idea that they should perk themselves up with chemicals every single day is not only not offensive to them, but seems like a pretty good idea, and—BONUS!– superprofitable for someone, too.
The kingpins of Medellín figured this out years ago.
If you need chemicals to keep you awake, you’ll eventually need chemicals to get you to sleep, and then chemicals to get your dragging ass out of bed again the next day, leaving you so wired that you’ll need a sleep aid to get any shuteye. This is just a tremendous idea; just ask Judy Garland.
Instead of addressing the insanity of modern life that requires folks to take 5-Hour Energy, Red Bull, and constant coffee, Diet Coke, or caffeinated snacks, there’s an expectation that we’ll do whatever it takes, including casually drugging ourselves on a daily basis, to keep up with the rat race and responsibly live out our assigned roles as consumers and drones for The Man.
The problem here is not that people get tired. This is a natural thing, and that post-lunch slow-down many of us feel? That’s a natural circadian rhythm for most humans (and other animals—you’ll never see a dog working 10 hours a day without at least 11 naps in there somewhere); in the past, we allowed for it with some version of the siesta concept, but since the beginning of the Industrial Age, the needs of the human body are merely an impediment to profit. And that is my biggest objection, really: that instead of accepting human biology and the necessities thereof as the basic foundation of our collective human existence, and building from there, we’ve got ourselves so turned around now that to not fight what we are and what we need, physically, psychically, emotionally, spiritually, to opt out, or to even comment on the insanity, is considered lazy and detrimental to the collective.
People shouldn’t have to work two or three jobs just to make it. Parents who decide that their family life isn’t going to revolve around running their children to fifteen activities every week should not be given a hard time for “not caring enough” to give their children every possible opportunity to acclimate to a hectic, rest-deprived schedule as early as possible. Women shouldn’t have to worry about their jobs and opportunities for advancement if they choose the common path (ever since the world was born) of having children. Most people have children; why do we make it so hard for them to make that work along with employment? People who are tired, or sick, or both, should be able to address those issues without worrying that they’re going to starve or be out on the street. In a sane, humane world, people could take a nap when they needed one, and get 8 hours of sleep (or whatever they need), because the world would operate on a schedule that would make that easy. In a sane world, a product like 5-Hour Energy wouldn’t exist.
Instead, we live in a world where the machine must never stop, and the cogs within it must be oiled with whatever concoctions that will allow them to continue to function until they ultimately break down beyond repair and can be replaced. If you can’t, or won’t, keep up, you are ground to dust; the machine doesn’t care. And through a combination of brainwashing and fear, we’ve decided that our inability to keep up is a personal failing to be addressed by any means necessary, not a failing of the system. I suggest we’re quite wrong about that.
Have you seen these commercials? Do they bug you as much as they do me?