What defines a vice? Is it something bad for you or perhaps something you can’t live without? And what happens when you decide to give up these vices? The Vice Project is an experiment that works to answer these questions.
For one week 15 editors and writers gave up a piece of themselves to find out if these daily transgressions qualify as true vices or if they’re just another part of the daily routine.
The vices ranged from television to meat, with each staffer choosing their own vice.
As an avid gamer, staff writer Adrian Pascua was nervous about giving up video games for an entire week.
“It was hard because all the best games came out that week,” Pascua said.
Though playing video games may not seem like a vice in the traditional sense, for Pascua it is an integral part of his routine.
Sociologist and Riverisde City College instructor Eric Vega says that these vices are so much a part of our routine that eliminating them can lead to a general sense of disorientation.
Assistant Inscape editor Christina Espinoza decided to give up coffee, which she has become accustomed to drinking on a daily basis.
In the early stages of the experiment, her lack of caffeine led to severe headaches and a much more tired existence.
“I felt tired, weak, unmotivated and slightly depressed,” Espinoza said.
As the body becomes accustomed to a daily dose of a certain chemical, be it caffeine or sugar, cutting it off cold turkey can inspire surprising results.
Opinions editor Corinne Love, who is known to love her sweets gave up sugar products including cakes, pies, cookies and soda. She was taken aback by her body’s reaction to the lack sugar.
“Without sugar I was more alert.” Love said, “The chemicals in my brain were more focused.”
There is also the added effect that reducing our exposure to certain distractions can save money.
“I had more money since I wasn’t wasting it on cupcakes and candy, it gets expensive after a while,” Love said.
Many of the participants chose to give up technological vices like television and the internet.
“Technological proliferation has given people something new to become addicted to,” Vega said.
“The internet is such an available distraction, but going without it made me more focused,” Editor In Chief Stephanie Holland said.
Many of these vices can really be categorized as habits and when they are taken away that space must be filled with something else.
“Disrupting the routine creates a chance to save money,” Vega said. “Eliminating it leaves an empty space.”
Since I couldn’t beat up anybody virtually, I beat them up physically and spent more time doing karate,” Pascua said.
Of course the idea of the experiment was to see what the participants would learn about themselves from changing their daily routines and taking away their favorite habits.
“Even though I like cookies, candy and cupcakes, I don’t need to have them all the time,” Love said. “I was sort of eating them because they were there.”
There is also the idea that making a small change is the first step to an overall change in how we see ourselves.
“They might change, they might not, but the consideration of changing is there,” Vega said. “Consideration is a crucial step towards changing.”