Add one more freeloader to what might be called the 9/11 social effects bandwagon: Dr. Donald B. Louria of University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-New Jersey Medical School. The professor and chairman emeritus of the university's department of preventive medicine warns that the attacks may drive young people to drugs in a new epidemic of "hedonism and pleasure."
Dr. Louria is hardly alone in his dire predictions. Immediately after the attacks, observers attributed all sorts of trends, no matter how long-lived, to the terrorist actions.
How could we possibly explain the phenomenon of Manhattanite "young babes"—along with lifelong New Yorker and CNN talk show washout Jeff Greenfield—moving from Gotham to Los Angeles (or, same thing, having some good things to say about La La Land)? It wasn't because of a long-sliding economy or, in Greenfield's case, one of the great pre-Donahue pratfalls on the yak show circuit. No, it was because of 9/11.
Casual sex among young adults in Greenwich Village—an absolutely unheard-of occurrence prior to the razing of the World Trade Center? The same. The need to "cocoon," preferably in Faith Popcorn signature La-Z-Boy recliners? Yup, 9/11 (despite the fact that Popcorn has been yammering about "cocooning" for two decades). The urge to go to the gym and work out extra hard? Or to scarf down the comfort foods that has made America a remarkably plus-sized nation for decades now? Or the sudden desire to quit smoking? These last three were among the effects of 9/11 detailed in a single Reuters story last November. Their cause? You get one guess (and it's not because twentysomethings are screwing in lower Manhattan).
But wait—quit smoking? That brings us back to Dr. Louria, a relative latecomer to the pin-the-trend-on-the-donkey game. He believes that 9/11, along with global warming, nuclear holocaust, bioterrorism, and, one suspects, the just-concluded disappointing season of Sex and the City, should have folks sucking down cancer sticks—or, more to the point, wacky tobacky—like so much candy.
"[There] is a perception that we cannot solve or significantly ameliorate one or more of the major society-threatening problems facing us—problems such as nuclear holocaust, bioterrorism, the consequences of global warming," warns Louria, who seems to be auditioning for an expert witness gig in Noelle Bush's eventual trial. "If young people in our society ever get the feeling that there is no future, we will see a drug scene that will dwarf all others."
We can only hope he's right. In any event, this much is certain: The surest sign of national healing will be when 9/11 is no longer the peg for every passing social observation.