If you’ve been keeping up with the magazine, then you know we’ve spent the past year trying to define what it means to be young in 2018. And after the year we’ve had, it feels fitting to close out our coverage with an issue dedicated to investigating mental health—or, more accurately, mental exhaustion—and the deep desire to escape from it all. This is the Burnout and Escapism Issue.
Stress and mental health concerns are not unique to our generation. But this is a generation expected to be connected and responsive all the time, entering a workforce where there is hardly a beginning or end to the day. This is a generation for whom teenage insecurities are subjected to an onslaught of image-conscious, carefully curated social media platforms. When we talk about burnout, we are not just talking about money and jobs; we are talking about the fractured lives we live and the toll this takes.
It’s no wonder this generation is increasingly turning to drugs as a means to escape and unplug, and we’re no longer just talking about weed. But when and how do drugs go beyond simple stress relievers and become fill-ins, Band-Aids, or treatments for the things we have lost in our lifestyles? Do drugs and drug trends overlap with a rise in stress? Have our brains been rewired because of various inputs from society, and how do people try to unravel that via drugs or unplugging?
To answer these questions and more, I enlisted the help of two fellow VICE editors: Ankita Rao, our special-projects editor, who has been covering health for years; and Max Daly, our global drugs editor.
I quickly wanted to mention the intent behind the design of the issue, which on first glance might feel a bit overwhelming. We wanted the layouts to be free flowing and unrestrained: You’ll see text that shifts and distorts and follows organic paths meant to mimic the calm and the unstable aspects of the mind, a dream like stream of consciousness. We employ graphic elements, such as ambiguous shapes in the background of layouts, as conceptual visual hallucinations. And the color combinations, which portray a clashing nature of color on color, are meant to show mood, tension, and anxiety. I hope the design gets you into the right headspace to fully enjoy these stories. —Ellis Jones, Editor-in-Chief