Chapter 8 in the Deckers book intorduced an interesting concept on page 187 called a hierarchy of needs. Constructed by Abraham Maslow, the hierarchy consists of physiological, safety, belongingness, esteem and self-actualization needs organized into tiers whereby the lower tier of needs is more likely to be acted on (Deckers, 188). According to this theory, physiological needs like food and water are the first to be acted on and it is not until these needs are satisfied that the next tier can be looked at. The third and fourth tiers, following safety, are belonging and esteem respectively. These needs include seeking relationships with friends and lovers and gaining prestige and glory from the recognition others. If this theory is correct, however, then why is it that our lowest tier level of needs is so overlooked in the pursuit of those higher on the list?
Everyone knows smoking makes you look cool and you can't prove that you have been to a real college party if you can't shotgun a beer without letting some suds hit the dance floor. Its comical to think about it but these are the traits that kids today are looking to emulate, all in hope of satisfying tiers three and four. The age at which kids are beginning to both smoke and drink recreationally is dropping lower and lower. Haven't you seen the 7th graders trying to buy cigarettes instead of snickers? Through exposure to movies, video games and most importantly the older people around them, kids have taken what adults use as stress relief ( though it's not anymore acceptable for established adults to smoke and drink heavily, a common misconception) and associated it with being cool and a bit rebellious, characteristics that go a long way in the hallway. However, the things they do to gain respect are physiologically damaging and certainly to nothing to satisfy any needs falling into the first tier.
Maybe Maslow had it wrong then, and people would rather bypass their physiological needs for more social acceptance and prestige. More realistically, he may not have accounted for the influences surrounded the population of people he was theorizing about. In today's world it seems more important be accepted than anything else and kids, the most impressionable population group, are seeing health hazards like binge drinking and blowing smoke rings as a way of gaining that heavily desired acceptance.