We’re supposed to be living in the most advanced civilization in history. And yet, it’s hard to believe all the dumb lifestyle myths, fads, superstitions, and downright idiotic conspiracy theories that pass for popular wisdom these days. It’s bonkers, if you ask me.
Maybe technology is the culprit. Maybe that ginormous cloud of absolute nonsense we call the Internet is where all this misinformation is coming from. Some idiot blogger quotes a 5-person study with an eyeball catching headline and, next thing you know, it’s been tweeted, retweeted, and posted all over Planet Earth.
The good news is it’s a free country. You’re free to run around believing every dopy notion you like, and I’m free to knock them down like bowling pins. Maybe I’ll start a new column called Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid. This will be the first post:
Vegetarians are not healthier. The way everyone in Hollywood brags about becoming a vegetarian, you’d think they just kicked heroin, not meat. Humans are omnivorous. Our bodies evolved that way. We don’t have sharp incisor teeth to rip apart tomatoes. It’s healthy and natural to have lean meat and fish in your diet.
Smart Meters are safe. I live in California, land of more nuts than you can imagine, and I don’t mean the kind you eat. Everywhere I go I see “Smart Meter Free Zone” signs. Here’s the thing. RF or radio frequency waves mean you no harm. Even if they did, they’re everywhere. You can’t escape them. If you want something to stay away from, try high voltage power lines, nuclear dumpsites, and ancient Indian burial grounds.
You don’t need a life coach. If you’re sick, go to a doctor. If your mind is sick, see a shrink. If you’re having trouble navigating life’s twists and turns, welcome to the real world. Deal with it. If you’re down, caffeine works wonders. If you need inspiration or perspective, play with your kids or go for a hike. If you need someone to listen to your problems and tell you what you already know you should do, try a friend.
Addiction isn’t a disease. People who are addicted to illegal drugs, prescription drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, sex, pornography, video games, social media, YouTube, TV, or fast food all have one thing in common. Brain chemistry. We all have it. Yes, it is a bigger issue for some people than others. It’s hard. Trust me, I know. If you’ve got a problem, get help. But playing the victim of a disease won’t do you any good.
Germs will not kill you. We’ve lived side by side with them forever. They cover every square millimeter of your body, inside and out. The reason we have antibiotic-resistant super-germs is because we constantly pop antibiotics. We even wash our hands and everything else with the stuff. I eat food off the floor (10 second rule). I occasionally wash my hands with soap. Regular soap. I never get sick.
Reality TV isn’t just for idiots. Let me be the first to admit I was wrong about this. I actually find Real Housewives to be incredibly life affirming and inspiring: we can all use a little reminder of how annoying, childish, and selfish that sort of indulgent and narcissistic lifestyle can be. On the other hand, I think Duck Dynasty is like a modern day My Three Sons meets Bonanza. Good, wholesome, redneck fun.
You don’t need to brush your teeth with bottled water. Fluoride prevents tooth decay. It won’t hurt you. Really. In all likelihood, the water coming out of your faucet is better for you and better tasting than bottled water. Not only that, it doesn’t pollute the planet with all that plastic.
Aspartame and Splenda are not bad for you. Obesity from consistently stuffing your face with more calories than you burn and a sedentary lifestyle are bad for you. Too much fat and sugar and not enough exercise is bad for you. These artificial sweeteners are not.
Wheat and milk are not unhealthy foods. That is, unless you’re lactose intolerant or have Celiac Disease and a problem with gluten. On the other hand, if you eat a loaf of bread and a quart of full fat milk a day, that could be a problem. Moderation, folks.
Vaccines don’t cause autism. Are we really still talking about this? Really?
Eating healthy is a choice. It’s popular these days to blame our obesity pandemic on everything but the truth: bad choices. Too many calories and too little exercise. The latest craziness is that minorities and the poor don’t have access to reasonably priced healthy food. Wow. I just made a huge salad full of veggies and leftover chicken for lunch. It cost peanuts. We shop at a supermarket. They’re all over. Buy food and cook it. It’s cheaper than McDonald’s.
You don’t need any vitamins, supplements, miracle pills or diets. Eat a healthy, balanced diet. It’s a lifestyle choice. Everything will be fine. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) tells you everything you need to know about eating healthy in less than 300 words. You can read it in one minute. Post it on your refrigerator. It’s free. Simple as that.
I busted my quota of dumb lifestyle myths and fads for the day. How about you? What did I miss? Better yet, what do you think I was wrong about?
Steve Tobak is a management consultant, columnist, former senior executive and author of "Real Leaders Don't Follow: Being Extraordinary in the Age of the Entrepreneur." Learn more, contact Tobak or follow his new blog at stevetobak.com. Any opinions expressed are those of the columnist.