Vices We Don’t Have To Be Ashamed Of Anymore

"What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits"

That was the title of a popular album by The Doobie Brothers back in the day. Consider that title for a moment, though.

Social mores and standards certainly do change and evolve over time. Cultures shift due to outside influences, societal standards move this way and that. So, what were these practices that were once considered "vices," but (for whatever reason) have now morphed in the face of public perception? Let's examine a few.

Gambling

Way back when, gambling was certainly considered a vice. These days, it's crossed over to mainstream.

Casinos now dot the country where they were once confined to the original Sin City, Las Vegas. Vegas is now more family-friendly than ever, a sign that gambling has at least partially rehabbed its previously seedy image: when people automatically equated Vegas and gambling with the mafia. Professional sports still cast a wary eye at gambling, but they've dipped their toes into the Vegas waters as well with a new NHL team and an NFL stadium and team on the way.

That's not to downplay the huge potential pitfalls that can come with gambling, including addiction. But, casual gambling just doesn't seem to be a pastime for the "vice" category anymore.

Alcohol

During the days of Prohibition (1920–1933), alcohol was legally frowned upon. Gradually, though, public perception (and laws) shifted. As is the case with gambling, casual, recreational drinking presents little in the way of "vice" status these days. And, maybe the lifting of that vice-categorization allowed us to realize that sometimes alcohol usage can escalate beyond the user's control. We now are astute enough to see the signs of a disease (something that was less recognized in the days of its vice).

Look at old reruns of TV shows like The Andy Griffith Show. Otis the town drunk was played for laughs, something that would certainly not be the case in our PC present-day culture. We had not yet really reached the point where we knew about the impact of alcoholism on one's health or the concept of driving while intoxicated.

So, does that mean removing the vice label from drinking alcohol actually benefitted us? Hmm.

Wastefulness

Wastefulness can easily be interpreted as sinful behavior, or at the very least as unappreciative. We live in a disposable society. If your Blu Ray player breaks, the big-box store down the street always has a huge selection on sale. So, it ends up to be cheaper to toss it out and buy a new one than opt for an expensive and time-consuming repair job.

It's not just electronics, either. Music? Dispensable. Big ornate albums are a thing of the past. Don't like the MP3 you just downloaded? Click, gone. Movies? Expendable. Rent it online, watch it, and within 48 hours (poof) it's removed from your streaming account. No need for the clutter of all those DVD cases. And, have you heard this—some retail stores apparently destroy quality merchandise rather than donate it if it goes unsold. Wasteful indeed.

Maybe we should be advocating for this one to come back as a vice?

Sex on TV

Perceived promiscuity and sexual themes have evolved over the years as far as public perception goes. And, this one has been evolving for quite some time.

Examples: In the 1970s, the television show Charlie's Angels existed for the sole purpose of putting women in bikinis. But in the 1950s, I Love Lucy stars Lucille Ball and Ricky Ricardo (married in real life) had to be shown sleeping in separate beds. And, then in the 1990s, Baywatch took it to a new extreme.

What was once thought of as indecent during prime time isn't really so indecent anymore. There are still societal safeguards, such as "standards and practices" to determine what kind of nudity and sexuality is "suitable" for mass consumption, but that means that there are types of sex and nudity that are OK.

The internet and streaming services are still the Wild West though when it comes to standards regarding sex in shows and movies. Everything is A-OK on the web.

Greed

Buddha once said, "To stop suffering, stop greediness. Greediness is a source of suffering." On the other hand, corporate raider Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) said in the movie Wall Street, "Greed, for lack of a better word . . .  is good. Greed is right. Greed works."

We define the term as "excessive or rapacious desire, especially for wealth or possessions." The word excessive is the one to look at in this case. If you desire wealth or possessions, there's nothing wrong with that. Wanting to have nice things is a basic building block for humans. Taking it to the excessive level means an entirely different thing though. So is greed a vice, or not?

Maybe, now it's just climbing the ladder?

Fast food

TV dinners were the fast food of the 50s. They were quick and easy, yet frowned upon by those moms that made home-cooked meals every night. And, then came fast-food restaurants. They basically accomplish the same thing as the TV dinner but with more variety and less microwaves. Yet, fast food was still generally thought to be unhealthy, gluttonous, junk food.

What about now? It's pretty clear that fast food isn't really a vice anymore, especially due to the rise of organic fast-food restaurants and food courts with healthy variety. Even your favorite fast-food chains now have some healthier choices. Quick meals so you can spend your precious time after work and school doing other things seems to be more important than keeping up the image of a wholesome, home-cooked-meal kind of family these days.

But, the key term to remember here is reasonable. If you overdo it, you'll pay the health price, and that cost can be rather steep.

#@&#@!!#+=^% (Cursing!)

Cursing has become mainstream. People might think that there is a lot more profanity used these days, but there's always been profanity around, it's just that we see and hear it a lot more now. Standards have changed, too. Time.com notes, "what is considered indecent language evolves as our cultures do."

There are two main reasons why we swear according to psychologist Timothy Jay, (also on Time.com). Besides allowing us to vent, "it also communicates very effectively, almost immediately, our feelings," he says. "And other words don’t do that." So, it seems like cursing has surpassed the vice category because in our instant-gratification society, curse words get our emotions across in ways other words take more time to do.

(That being said, don't curse at school, work, or in front of your grandma . . . there's still such a thing as social etiquette).

Smoking (cigarettes and otherwise)

Smoking cigarettes may have gone in the other direction vice-wise. It wasn't really considered a vice back in the day. Men and women smoked all the time because the health effects weren't known. Doctors even prescribed smoking for some symptoms. These days, with the awareness of the health risks, you certainly don't see as many people smoking, which is great!

But, there's another type of smoking that has truly seen a societal change through the years. Back in the 1960s, the "hippie" culture was known for drug usage, such as smoking marijuana—perhaps the first time mainstream America was aware of such a thing.

Nowadays, there are a handful of states in the country where recreational marijuana use is legal. Smoking marijuana is becoming akin to drinking alcohol, as long as it's kept to a fun, casual level. Vice no more.

Laziness

Is this one no longer a vice? It almost depends on your choice of words. Let's examine the word relaxed, for example. We define it as "being free of or relieved from tension or anxiety." Perhaps, you're relaxing in the hammock in the backyard on a warm, sunny afternoon. Are you also considered lazy?

Let's contrast it with the word sloth ("habitual disinclination to exertion; indolence; laziness"). Maybe the word habitual is the key here. As long as you don't make "relaxing" a habit over other productive things like oh say, work or cleaning, then we don't think laziness is a vice any longer. It pays health-wise (and sanity-wise) to relax once in a while.

Vanity

Vanity is the "excessive pride in one's appearance, qualities, abilities, achievements." (And, let's clear this up right now—it's a genderless vice—or non-vice). The key word once again is excessive.

If you spend hours every day looking at yourself in the mirror, is that considered a vice? In most people's opinion, probably. But, what about merely taking pride in your appearance? Leaving the house every day with your hair combed, clothes tucked in the right places, nails manicured, and face lotioned. That's much different, and there's no way (in our humble opinion) that would be considered a vice any more. There are entire industries dedicated to beautification, and these days it's probably more frowned upon to look unkempt and unclean.

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