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sXe is an abbreviation of “straight edge,” a term used to describe a youth movement which eschews the use of drugs, alcohol, and other substances deemed “poisons” by members of the movement. This movement arose among followers of hardcore punk music in the 1980s, primarily in response to the hedonism associated with punk music during this period. Although many straight edgers are followers of punk and metal, it's not necessary to be a punk fan to follow sXe principles.
In straight edge culture, people believe that they should treat their bodies with care and respect, avoiding substances which could cause harm. This includes drugs and alcohol, with some people also avoiding tobacco and caffeine. Some straight edgers are vegan, believing that animal products harm the body and the spirit, and some also eschew casual sexuality. Different people have different interpretations of what it means to be sXe, and numerous communities exist for straight edgers who want to network with people who have similar interests.
Among youth movements, sXe is really rather interesting. Although it is associated with hardcore punk music, its fundamental concepts are closer to those of religious youth movements than hardcore movements, and straight edgers often have a lot in common with devout youth. Members of the movement have also been known to point out that it is one of the few youth movements which makes abstinence from drugs, casual sexuality, and other potentially harmful behaviors not only socially acceptable, but sometimes socially desirable.
The origins of the abbreviation “sXe” for straight edge appear to lie in the custom at nightclubs and other venues of marking minors with X's so that they will not be served alcohol. The “X” is also used as a symbol of straight edge lifestyle, as is an “xXx” symbol. Some straight edgers identify themselves with sXe tattoos to show their commitment to the lifestyle, and many also wear patches, pins, and other symbols which link them with the straight edge life.
sXe culture is especially popular among people under the drinking age, and some people turn away from their sXe beliefs when they get older. Others choose to adopt a straight edge philosophy for life, sometimes becoming substance abuse counselors or advocates for youth so that they help people who may be struggling. Many resources for people interested in becoming sXe stress the idea that the lifestyle is not something you join, but something you actively live.
@widget2010, I too knew a lot of straight edge kids who changed greatly to the other directions. Meanwhile, I have never been interested in drinking or drugs. I don't make a big deal of it most of the time, it's just a part of my life. I think that when you turn things into a big movement, it makes them seem like such huge, all-or-nothing statements that there is no room for real thinking or consideration, and there's no protection when you suddenly face negative influences.
I knew many people who claimed to be straight edge in middle school and high school. The problem I saw with this was that many of these kids swore off drugs and alcohol because of a movement, not because of any real knowledge of their effects on the mind and body, or the legal issues involved.
The problem with this was the same problem that comes when children given abstinence-only sex education become sexually active- they had no concept of control, of limits, or of moderation, and never thought about preventative measures like designated drivers, limiting intake, or anything else.
As a result, many of these former "straight edge" kids ended up pregnant, in jail, or at the very least as high school dropouts. I find it unfortunate, because at the time it seemed to me like a cool idea for a movement.
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