A news report came out a while ago saying that drinking Diet Coke can increase your chance of heart attack. As a regular Diet Coke drinker (I should be on the distribution list for Diet Coke by the pallet, like a grocery store), my response was the following:
“Big deal. You gotta die of something.”
I know I drink a lot of the stuff. And like most everything else in life I enjoy, like big greasy cheeseburgers, Irish whiskey, and collecting Jehovah’s Witness scalps, it can’t be good for me in the long run.
Risk – not just a board game
Drinking Diet Coke is a risk, and I don’t believe anything in life is ever completely risk free. But news stories like this, harping on the possible dangers, and the way they are peddled suggest we can exist in a world that is risk-free. That, in a word, is bullshit.
On the scale of risk from the lowest (being a character in Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood) to the highest (cutting the red wire instead of the green wire – you fool!), drinking Diet Coke comes in on the low end of the spectrum, slightly more risky than popcorn, and a lot less risky than complaining about Mrs. Sigmadog’s Home Renovation Porn habit (seriously, she watches those home renovation shows all frickin’ day). Drinking Diet Coke increases a minor statistical likelihood and that’s all.
The Diet Coke risk is not a cause; it’s a correlation. That’s a big difference the media loves to ignore on just about every health-related story.
Also, I don’t respond to these types of scare stories because of my contrary, anti-authoritarian nature. Whenever I hear someone tell me I shouldn’t do X, my first reaction and desire is not only to do X, but to do it at midnight on their lawn in my underwear while describing my enjoyment of X in explicit detail into a microphone hooked up to Doc Brown’s massive sound system from Back to the Future, or maybe the war wagon from Mad Max: Fury Road, I haven’t decided.
This is why I’m annoyed with modern life. Nannies and scolds surround us and want to make us better, and by “better” I mean “more like them”.
Diet Coke and Crazy Eddie
Everyone has an agenda, whether it’s vegetarianism, libertarianism, socialism, environmentalism, patriotism, progressivism, atheism, fundamentalism, or whatever. I try my best to avoid the most zealous of these types of people. It’s not difficult, they are usually harmless and easily ignored. But some are very persistent.
I encountered one such nutcase at my sister’s memorial service a couple years ago. His name was Ed, but he shall forever be known to me as Crazy Eddie. I was mingling, working the room and sipping a Diet Coke. He approached me and offered his condolences. He began telling me how he often spoke to my sister about nutritional matters, and, gosh, if she had just listened to him more about mineral supplements she might still be with us today and are you aware of the evil ingredients in that Diet Coke and how it turns to formaldehyde in your stomach and blah, blah, aspartame, blah, blah, Donald Rumsfeld, blah, blah, organic muffins, etc.
Standing near the table which held my sister’s ashes, I recall thinking I had two choices:
- Simply walk away and avoid Crazy Eddie.
- Beat him to death with my sister’s urn.
A model of control, I chose the first option, but it took all my willpower.
I guess my point is that life is full of little risks that all add up to death eventually. The only way to avoid it is to never live in the first place. To me that’s the real hazard we face with do-gooders, scolds and nannies: Their aim is to make life so risk-free it ceases to be worth living.