Why do people get piercings?

Examples of social decline, especially in the UK

Why do people get piercings?

Postby Gavin » 01 Aug 2011, 11:50

Prior to starting this forum, I used to run my own site. This is an article that I wrote there.

Very often you will be walking around London, or almost anywhere in the developed world (yes, the developed world) and you will see a person with a beautiful face which they have ruined by puncturing it in a bizarre place.

Not content with perhaps a discreet hole for an ear-ring (which I personally find somewhat effeminate on men) they will have a stick through their eyebrow, a row of spikes through the upper area of their ear, a stud in their tongue or indeed a ring inside their ear lobe so large that you could poke your finger through it.

It might make you wince to see these people. It looks as though they have had an accident with a rivet gun, and many times you might feel a compassionate impulse to offer to assist them with their apparent injury. It's hard to believe these assaults are self-inflicted, and frequently you might find yourself picturing their face without the spikes, studs and rods which so terribly and literally deface what would otherwise have been beauty.

Now, why is it offensive to see these things? "What's wrong with it?", I am asked. "Live and let live", etc. Well, the first thing to understand is that the moral theory of consent is wrong. Just because someone consents to something doesn't make it well advised or right, for them or for others around them. People are often mistaken about what is good for them. The moment a moral relativist concedes this point, their position is severely weakened.

These piercings are painful. People have gone through pain to acquire them and any sensitive person should be reminded of that on seeing them. They are also like scars or blotches on an otherwise pleasant and unblemished landscape - and self imposed ones at that. Faces are extremely important to human beings. We can discern the slightest differences in expression. We're attracted, usually, to their softness, their regularity and approximate symmetry. A ring, rivet or spike ruins a face as much as skillfully applied make-up can enhance it, because it is completely incongruous.

What makes people do this to themselves, and without shame (sometimes even with pride)? They do think it looks nice, I grant you, but this is because their aesthetic judgment has been severely off-balanced by other psychological factors. It is a statement. The exact content will vary, but major ingredients are likely to be "I am a victim", "Look how much pain I can take", "Look at me", "I don't care what you think", and so on. Frequently mere juvenile cries for attention.

Another reason people do this to themselves is because they are following fashion. In particular, they are following the very prevalent current fashion which betrays civilisation by idealising primitive beliefs and customs of the past. One begins to wonder how soon it will be until western people begin doing even more harmful things such as elogating their necks with rings, putting plates in their lips and sacrificing their young to imaginary gods.

It is hard to see why this perverse attraction to a more ignorant past has come about, but it is probably a reflex reaction to the superficiality and materialism of today's age - and it is equally misguided.

Personally I am always inclined to completely ignore such people, because that is what they least want, but I cannot help but feel sorry for them. Some adornment, fine. But this kind of painful and aesthetically repellant self-mutilation is really better avoided by all concerned. Only political correctness prevents more people from saying so.

Addition: Tattoos. Regarding these let me merely say a 60 year old looks even worse with them than does a 20 year old. Especially when they make a statement with which the poor individual no longer agrees. It is a misguided arrogance to think we can improve upon the simple natural beauty of our bodies by covering them with tattoos. Do yourself a favour: save the money (and the pain, and the regret).
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Re: Why do people get piercings?

Postby Gavin » 01 Aug 2011, 17:48

I haven't even started discussing more extreme "body modifications" yet.

Check out this guy.

We have our own equivalents in the UK and if you have not seen them in the street, you can see them on the television programme "Snog, Marry, Avoid" on YouTube.

One has horns screwed into his head. Another has rows of hypodermic needles permanently inserted into his forearms.

Even genital piercings seem, how can I put it.. unwise.. to me. Actually, they seem like the kind of thing that a person in a police state might threaten to do to a prisoner unless they capitulated.

What is going on with body modification? Is it simply childish cries for attention?

There will no doubt be different ones in future too - perhaps microchips inserted in people. Isn't plastic surgery a body modification too?
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Re: Why do people get piercings?

Postby Michael » 01 Aug 2011, 22:30

Gavin,

Thank you for posting your reflections questioning why people get piercings. I agree with you that at least part is the rejection of civilization in favour of primitivism, and that attention seeking has some part in it. Whenever I ask people why they got their tattoo/piercing/etc. they always bring up some point about self-expression. To which I must always suppress the urge to reply with my favourite Roger Scruton quote: "Self expression is fine, so long as you have an interesting self to express." Scruton's pithy answer is not completely satisfactory, as it leaves unanswered why piercing and tattooing are acceptable forms of self-expression.

I believe your question is complex, with three parts I can identify. First, there is the question of whence the desire for body modification comes from. Again, some rejection of civilization seems to be at work, whether consciously or unconsciously. I believe there is a also a paired desire to both belong to an in group and exclude an out group. The out group, needless to say, is the civilized. Rejecting civilization comes from being lied to about it, and taught that it has nothing of value to offer. Poor education, a common refrain of Dalrymple's articles, is at work here.

The second question concerns why nothing interrupts this desire to modify one's body. I would suggest as a partial answer that it is because there is no strong social opposition to it anymore, nor a sense that respecting the opinion of society is valuable. Indeed, many people fallaciously extend the obviously true proposition that "there are some instances in which widespread opinion was wrong" to "all instances of widespread opinion are wrong". You can imagine a fun (though depressing) future in which it becomes rebellious to not pierce and tattoo oneself and dress sensibly because body modification has become the new norm.

The third question is more complicated, and hardest to answer. That is why a person persists in their folly after getting a piercing. You are right to ask the question specifically about piercings because while both tattoos and piercings can be acquired in a fit of misjudgment (perhaps induced by alcohol) one has to continually choose to bear the piercing, whereas the tattoo is permanent. Again, many factors must be at work - a society that makes it both desirable to express oneself regardless of one's personal merits (Everyone is special!) and a social milieu that makes body modification an acceptable form of self-expression (Everyone whose opinion I care about is doing it!).
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Re: Why do people get piercings?

Postby Gavin » 02 Aug 2011, 09:34

Hi Michael. Thank you for your interesting contribution. I have been most heartened by the quality of the posts already on this forum and I am pleased to be able to assure readers that they will stay this good.

I think we are pretty much in the future you describe now. In many places, anyway, one stands out in conservative clothing and without any tattoos or piercings. We are surely close to the point where one's bank manager can make the case for his "right" to have a rod through his nose, etc. But these decorations are hideous and they look very painful!

You make some interesting references, Scruton etc., and your mention of "Everyone is special!" reminded me of Melanie Phillips' book All Must Have Prizes. I haven't read it, but it might be an interesting read.
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Re: Why do people get piercings?

Postby Elliott » 02 Aug 2011, 10:36

Gavin wrote:Melanie Phillips' book All Must Have Prizes. I haven't read it, but it might be an interesting read.

It's a good book, if rather humorless. She's very thorough about the evolution of the mindset in teaching, from the Victorian time through to 1996. (She actually thinks the rot was "initiated" as far back as 1910.)

If anything the book has too much historical detail. It can be tough reading about every little machination within the DoE. The important thing is that she does tie it all together into a theory; it's not just a compendium of tell-tale evidence.

Her conclusion, if I may post "spoilers", is that the collapse in education is due to the collapse of adult authority, which in turn is due to the collapse of Western confidence.

The book is a very interesting read, and you can get it for pennies second-hand on Amazon.

What is very obvious after reading the book is this: the people "designing" education, telling teachers how to teach etc., truly do not live in the real world. They really are ideologues and they really are intent on the effects we see happening. It is not accidental. Nothing has gone "wrong"; this is exactly what they want.

But this is really for another thread!
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Re: Why do people get piercings?

Postby Elliott » 02 Aug 2011, 10:55

Gavin wrote:Check out this guy.

Check out this even scarier photo of him! (Brace yourself, seriously.)

What is going on with body modification? Is it simply childish cries for attention?

I think you're right. The trouble is that we live in an age in which X's opinion is valued as highly as Y's. X can assume anything he says or does will be treated as clever. In other words there's nobody to tell X that he was silly to get that piercing; therefore, human vanity being as it is, he thinks he was clever to get that piercing.

I suppose almost any action, not condemned, could lead eventually to vanity, to presuming that the action was right, and that one was right to choose it.

There will no doubt be different ones in future too - perhaps microchips inserted in people.

That's likely, but at least implanted microchips would have an intrinsic function (ie to allow communication with technology). It would certainly be body modification, but not in the normally understood sense IMHO.

Isn't plastic surgery a body modification too?

Yes. Except for reconstructive cases, it amazes me that people are prepared to alter their own faces, structurally. Imagine looking in the mirror and seeing a semi-stranger - somebody who looks like you but not quite. I don't know how people can voluntarily choose that!
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Re: Why do people get piercings?

Postby Gavin » 02 Aug 2011, 11:15

Good points, Elliott.

Elliott wrote:It's a good book, if rather humorless.

Isn't that the beauty of Dalrymple's writing? He writes about the bleakest of things (important things that need writing about), he is judgmental (that is a quality in my view, and often those who profess not to be judgmental are in fact so), yet he combines this with compassion and often great humour. This humour indeed often comes unwittingly from his patients themselves. I am reminded of the classic:

Dalrymple: "Does your boyfriend hit you often?"
Patient: "No. Usually he head butts me."
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Re: Why do people get piercings?

Postby Andy JS » 02 Aug 2011, 12:03

When TD wrote an article about piercings recently, the online comments section was full of abusive replies from people who accused him of being judgmental. These same people didn't seem to realise that they were themselves being judgmental with regard to TD's views on piercings and therefore contradicting their stated belief in non-judgmentalism.
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Re: Why do people get piercings?

Postby Gavin » 03 Aug 2011, 13:38

I think Mr Thornhill (seen previously in photographs) is quite unoriginal actually. He looks rather like the "Pinhead" character in in Hellraiser.

I would argue that he is an ill man though (and I don't ill mean as "sick" is now used by degenerate youth to mean "good"). Had he sought therapy this would no doubt have been less expensive than those ghastly body modifications.
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Re: Why do people get piercings?

Postby Andrea » 05 Aug 2011, 16:10

Andy JS wrote:When TD wrote an article about piercings recently, the online comments section was full of abusive replies from people who accused him of being judgmental. These same people didn't seem to realise that they were themselves being judgmental with regard to TD's views on piercings and therefore contradicting their stated belief in non-judgmentalism.


Absolutely. It is a shame this has to even be pointed out, but that's how it is now. Some people simply won't see that being judgemental can be good - for it can make things better. I think people who sit back and say, "don't judge," or "live and let live," are enablers who are really just as bad as those who are behaving in questionable ways.
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Re: Why do people get piercings?

Postby Elliott » 06 Mar 2012, 23:10

This thread occurred to me yesterday in my local Tesco's. A checkout guy there (I can't say "boy" because he must be in his mid 20s at least) has always had the goth look about him but now he's had his ears augmented thus:

Image

Not only does it look hideous, but the discs inserted make it impossible for his ears to rest naturally against his head, so they actually stick out like car doors!

To think he actually spent his own money to get that done to him...
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Re: Why do people get piercings?

Postby Gavin » 07 Mar 2012, 00:19

This is a truly hideous look indeed, yet so commonly seen now. It is offensive in several ways, and I'm sure that is the primary purpose.

One way it is offensive is that any sensitive person can almost feel the pain of these "augmentations" just by observing them - and we have no choice but to observe them whenever we walk the pavements now. While the "flesh tunnels" are ridiculous, I particularly dislike that stupid ring through the lip - and it looks really painful.

It is also offensive to see civilisation so firmly rejected and the ways of the pygmy embraced, while at the same time this individual probably plays on an iPhone (a modern miracle - well, personally I prefer Android) and benefits from many of the other structures that civilised society has developed for him.

Pray tell, is this gentleman still in the employ of said supermarket? I'm surprised he has worked at all, but I will make an effort to avoid Tesco if I'm liable to to be confronted with this ugliness not only from the customers but from the staff too.
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Re: Why do people get piercings?

Postby Elliott » 07 Mar 2012, 06:05

Gavin, yes he's still employed there, but I only saw him with his "flesh tunnels" for the first time yesterday. Perhaps they will decide to sack him.

I almost felt like complaining myself, but, oh I don't know, it almost seemed cruel to do that. I went through the thinking most of us are familiar with nowadays:

He's not doing me any harm
He doesn't mean me any harm
There are more important things
Is it really worth jeopardising a young man's employment?
Perhaps it's I who has the problem, not him
He was pleasant enough in his tone and manner
Let he who is without flesh tunnels, etc. etc.


So in the end I did nothing, and probably everyone else who is offended by his ears will follow suit. I suppose that makes me a collaborator in our culture's descent.
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Re: Why do people get piercings?

Postby Gavin » 02 May 2012, 17:25

I was being served by somebody in the cinema today who had a ring through his lip. Even though they are such a common sight now, it was really off-putting. It just looked painful and unpleasant. I tried not to look at him.

Meanwhile, with regard to that picture a couple of posts back of the lad with those enormous rings in his ears, I must confess I can barely suppress a laugh every time I see it now. It looks comical! But were I in front of of the chap I am sure the whole the atmosphere would more be one of menace than of humour. And it is sad to see what he has done to himself.
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Re: Why do people get piercings?

Postby Gavin » 08 Sep 2012, 18:37

Here's a gentleman ("Skrillex") who is currently riding high in the British music charts:

Image

I'm not sure I'd be smiling if I'd done that to myself. Needless to say he has arms full of tattoos too.

Young singer Ellie Goulding has chosen him as the best man available for her. She sang at the reception of the royal wedding recently. Perhaps he himself will be chosen to perform at the next royal event - after all we have had Tinie Tempah and Dizzee Rascal at the Olympics.
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