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Straight edge (sometimes abbreviated sXe or signified with XXX or X) is a subculture of hardcore punk whose adherents refrain from using alcohol, tobacco and other recreational drugs, in a reaction to the excesses of punk subculture.

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For some, this extends to refraining from engaging in promiscuous sex, following a vegetarian or vegan diet, and/or not using caffeine or prescription drugs.

The term was adopted from the song “Straight Edge” by the hardcore punk band Minor Threat.

I was introduced to the phenomenon 8 years back in my teens growing up as a wrestling addict which I sadly am to this day (I know it’s scripted), there was a wrestler who wrestled under the moniker of CM PUNK who initially started putting these X’s on his wrist which to me seemed pretty cool and made him stand out of the pack in a sport laden with drug abuse and violence… he was the black sheep of sorts.

He cut promos (Extended Monologues) explaining what the X’s represented and how he lived a clean life without relying on cigarettes, drugs and alcohol.

Growing up in Pakistan in my school going days there were guys smoking in clans sharing cigarettes and offering them like cookies to anyone and everyone, I too being young and naïve gave into the temptation.

I was told when I was moving to college that the only thing I won’t have to worry about are free smokes.

As a young guy growing up everyone wanted to be “cool” and “fitting in” was the main objective, that is how you got the girls we were told, Bad boys have always been notorious and somehow this was kind of the criterion of being “BAD”.

I took up smoking but never as a habit, I would do it occasionally among a group of friends to show comradery and obviously to look cool and fit in with the crowd, Smoking never did anything for me I thought of it as a waste of time and money and I doubted the effect it had on others who saw us smoking and it being an aphrodisiac to attract young maidens.

That is how many people my age start smoking according to my experiences and observations; I moved up to college still an occasional smoker growing more and more skeptical about the culture and its desired effects.

College was a whole other can of worms, kids were going crazy, Booze was pretty easy to find Drugs were frequently used and people were encouraged to partake in activities which also sometimes included promiscuous sex.

The temptations were never ending but somehow I refrained from the hard partying norm and that was also the time when I was introduced to the straightedge lifestyle.

People had passed their schooling and college was not very different, we still had the jocks, the basket cases, the oddballs, the princesses and the criminals.

It reminded me of a song I heard by a band called “Bowling for soup” titled “High school never ends”.
It never ended.

As I went into my professional career after graduation I still saw some of if not the entire culture still very much existent, people vying for attention trying to fit in, trying to hide their weakness under the garb of anxiety, stress and depression from the pressure of work load or the world in general, let’s just say the excuses and reasons of doing things changed with time, first we did them because we had a lot of time to kill and then we gave in cause we understood that time was killing us, something like that.

People are into self-harm knowing the consequences of their actions but they lie to themselves and find excuses to support their habits which sadly turn into addictions.

It’s not even about ending up as an addict it’s the reasoning that bothers me, Why partake in the activities to begin with?

I never found a satisfactory answer, Individuality is lost and no one seeks it we just continue to go through the daily races with steady paces with robotic routines oblivious to the world falling around us in a consumer frenzied environment.

At a time when subjects such as art, music and creative writing are under threat in secondary and tertiary education, there is much debate about their value in education and, in the case of creative writing, whether they can or should be taught.

Currently young people are being encouraged to move into the sciences, perhaps because there is a perception that this will lead to more job prospects, and perhaps too because the sciences are seen as subjects with right or wrong answers – easier to cram for and less likely to suffer an arbitrary change in the marking criteria.

Education is shifting from learning to cramming, from creative thinking to purely fact based thinking, and in the process, breadth of study has given way to ever narrowing exam based curriculums that discourage curiosity.

Society is not encouraging our children to become themselves but rather to become carbon copies of the models it holds up for them to emulate – carbon copies who it hopes will continue to reinforce the status quo.

Ironically though, more and more employers are bemoaning the lack of curious minds and creative thinkers, attributes that are increasingly required for success in the modern world.

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