I decided it was suitable for me to base my project around those my age whose lives are effected by drug use, be that a positive or negative effect. Before I began my audience research I used my own knowledge to devise an idea of how I view people whose lives are effect by this subject, which is that I believe with the increase of celebrity status and the online social networking sites, younger people are becoming more aware of this issue are highly exposed to the this lifestyle.
Although I google searched these images, I already had prior knowledge to the fact these celebrities engage in drugs, as they publish images like this on their Instagram profiles which people all around the world can see. I wanted to know the opinions of those who do and don't do drugs, so I put together a questionnaire to distribute to peers, friends, and work colleagues. I decided this was the best method of primary research as I didn't want facts and statistics, I wanted the personal opinions of people with different backgrounds, lifestyles and views to help form a solid idea for my 10 photographic pieces.
I also used Instagram to explore the images taken by simple civilians with no celebrity status, just so I could see how they are portraying their online self as drug takers. This was the first image I found, and shocking would be an understatement.
Quite a simple image, yes. But pay attention to the caption and tags. This female girl uses drugs to aid her weight loss and increase the likeliness of becoming "anorexic", suggesting she is "bulimic, and the desire to be "thin". How are young adults suppose to react to this? We are becoming more body conscious as a society, but the fact in some cases drugs are an aid to this lifestyle puts in perspective the social pressures of drug abuse.
The questions I asked were :
* Have you ever taken drugs? (Not all questions will apply if not)
* What is your opinion on people who take drugs?
* Think back the first time you ever took drugs. Why did you do it?
* Is it a habit or something you do occasionally?
* Has it ever effected your relationship with your parents?
* Do you think the media encourages drug use ? (celebrities, music videos, films, etc) if so, give an example.
I asked 20 people in total, in which I was bombarded with a whole range of answers within minutes. Whilst reading through the results, not only did I discover a pattern of similar answers, but I had exactly answers from 10 people who have taken drugs, and 10 who haven't ! This coincidence gave me a balanced response which made it a lot easier to compile my results.
HERE ARE A FEW ANSWERS I RECEIVED
Summarising all responses, I wrote brief notes on peoples reactions to the questions
PEOPLE WHO HAVE TAKEN DRUGS
* taken because of friends, social networking influences others, such as Instagram
* its everyones choice to take the risk, wanted to experience the high, media influences massively especially the way modern chart music glamorises drug abuse, but the more we force change the more people rebel especially at our age
* wanted to experience the high, young people look up to those in the headlines, influenced by lifestyle
* its your own choice and it doesn't define who you are, wanted to experience it, parents are understanding as its their choice, media makes it pear acceptable to those younger audiences, celebrities are so open about their usage it makes it socially acceptable
* wanted to experience the usage rather than read it at school, occasionally taken at social events
* there are worse things that the media encourage
* influenced by friends, Miley Cyrus smoking on stage encourages usage
* can benefit people positively, parents are okay with it, tv shows such as Skins publicise it to younger people
* out of complete curiosity, we need freedom to live fast die young
* its good if its for relaxation but bad if its a young person wasting their money recklessly, clinically approved for stress and physical pain so benefits a lot, wanted to experience a different state of mind artistically, Miley Cyrus, publicity stunt to prove something to the world - rebelling and not conforming to societies expectations
PEOPLE WHO HAVE NEVER TAKEN DRUGS
* despise drugs, hurts to see others do it, media influences people to become cool and rebellious
* their choice, they know the health risks and illegality, media expresses good and bad in comedic ways, such as Pineapple Express
* its everyones individual choice and shouldn't pressure others, media glorifies it, celebrities encourage it
* don't mind drugs unless people pressure others, celebrities glamorise drugs, Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, etc
* pity those who depend on drugs, the media don't encourage, don't condemn
* frowned upon if it causes a homeless lifestyle, makes everyones aware of drugs and the dangers, the combination of music video and celebrities encourage it
* no respect for those who take it, musicians encourage fans through lyrics, especially rappers
* dont agree with it but accepts it as its so common, celebrities such as Justin Bieber are in the media about drugs which affects his fans views
* media peer pressures, keeping slim and perhaps stress from the fame
* no personal issue but people are foolish to let it take over their lives, idolising people who partake in drug abuse encourages you to think its acceptable, movies make it appealing
* doesn't see the need for addiction to such substances, the media has nothing that is powerful enough to convince drug use.
WHAT DID I ACHIEVE FROM THESE QUESTIONNAIRES ?
I noticed that one question in particular "has it ever effected the relationship between your parents?" didn't have as many interesting answers as I assumed there would be. This made me consider the fact that perhaps with focusing on people my age, I need to consider that FREEDOM AND INDEPENDENCE is more available with our life choices. Except one or two, most people answered that their parents either didn't know or had no opinion of the fact the partake in drug substances. This in particular was an eye opener for me.
I wasn't shocked to see how so many people held the opinion that the media plays a part in influencing younger generations to be involved in drugs. The constant news reports, celebrity publicity, the film industry, music videos, advertisements, etc, bring awareness to so many people which can have either positive or negative influences. But what I discovered is that the majority of people wanted EXPERIENCE THE FEELING AND STATE OF MIND when being intoxicated. It's those who have never taken drugs that were more aware of the medias influence, whereas those who have taken drugs didn't have much of an opinion, as clearly they were influenced differently. This also opened my eyes to the opinions of those around me, and how I needed to focus my project away from the media, and more on the lifestyle of those who are involved in drug abuse and why they do it.