Mayor Michael Bloomberg is now focusing his attention on the perils of hearing loss from loud earbuds.
The New York Post reports the mayor is launching a new public health campaign to raise awareness of a well-known, but widely ignored fact that loud music can cause permanent hearing damage.
The program, which will cost roughly $250,000 and be paid for by a grant from the Fund for Public Health, will be social media based and target young adults using Facebook and Twitter.
There's nothing more useless and a waste of time and money than an "awareness campaign". Awareness campaigns are what government does when it sits up top and looks down upon the little people like a game of SimCity and tries to come up with little tweaks here and there to change behavior, to the supposed benefit of the community. Their heart is perhaps in the right place but it amounts to nothing more than making the creators of these campaigns feel good about themselves as if they were actually accomplishing some good in the world. The reality is that it's the equivalent to pouring money down the drain, as not only do people not pay attention to awareness campaigns, but even if they did it would still not likely cause them to change their behavior. Let's say though for argument sake that awareness campaigns are 100% effective and that every person who sees or hears it will immediately change their behavior accordingly. At that most optimistic success rate, it's still not worth the time and money.
People are already aware of the dangers of smoking. They're aware that if they don't wear their seat belts and they're involved in a head-on collision, they're probably going to be fucked. They're aware that if they drink nothing but pepsi and coke all day every day, they'll suffer health consequences later. And yes, they're also aware that listening to music at high volume using headphones on a regular basic may have an effect on their hearing, especially as they get older. What we have is not a problem of people not understanding the risks, but the result of people living in a free country where people are supposed to have the free will to calculate the risks for themselves and make their own choices. As long as we allow people to have free will, people are going to make dumb decisions. You could prevent all dumb decisions if you really wanted to, but that would come at the cost of freedom, and freedom is certainly more valuable than any consequences as the result of a bad decision.
Are awareness campaigns taking away freedom? No. But they're done with the intent of controlling behavior, and it's a waste of resources whether it's effective or not. Stop wasting the people's money with your feel-good campaigns. Having your heart in the right place just doesn't cut it anymore; too many terrible and useless things have been done with the justification of good intentions.