First off, what is a taboo? This is defined as:
“A social or religious custom prohibiting or forbidding discussion of a particular practice or forbidding association with a particular person, place, or thing.”
Culture creates taboos from almost anything these days. So what are some of the major issues with chewing gum? A quick search finds people are appalled at gum chewers in private settings. This can be anything from a workplace environment to a funeral. There are certain situations where it is just rude to chew gum, and I would believe a funeral is top of the list. Who wants to listen to someone smacking lips and loud chew noises in a time of grief. I think the same thing goes for a wedding ceremony, it is a private, quiet time.
What about the rest of the time? We have already seen many health-related benefits to chewing gum, and even stop smoking because chewing.
What taboos are we not really aware of?
I will put out there that the largest taboo is people chewing with their mouth open. In general, this is disgusting, who wants to look at that? I can’t stand open mouth chewers in any settings, that goes double for food eaters as well. If you have ever worked in an office setting with a mouth chewer, you know what I mean.
A second is chewing gum close to others. If you are in an elevator, just be cautious about it. Do you share a desk with someone? I do! Don’t be that person and smack your lips all day. It breeds a slow boiling type of anger that erupts in a loud scream from the bellows of your gut, and no one knows why.
Many countries have taboos about chewing gum in public, it is considered rude and disgraceful. Austria, Germany, Italy, Malasia to name a few. I am guessing a good deal of the hatred has to do with people leaving their gum everywhere. It is really disgusting to see gum piled on the streets and step in it. As someone who has stepped in their fair share of gum, it’s not fun!
Why do we create taboos?
This is always an interesting question, but I believe we create restrictions as a form of common law creation. These are laws that citizens make towards each other because it seems silly to make it a legal thing. We are not going to pass a law banning bubble gum chewing, so why not make it a taboo! That way the end goal is realized but without the real punishment.
Another reason is culture, if there are multiple cultures in an area and one doesn’t like something, they can create a taboo in hopes of others adopting the same line of thinking. This happens for all sorts of random things we are not going to go into.
The taboo is then circulated through bad looks and off handed gossip. It eventually finds its way to the person intended, so problem solved!
What to do about it?
Well, that question really depends on you dear reader. Do you care enough to have people look at you oddly? Or don’t you? I say if you are respectful and keep it quiet, you can chew gum anywhere you want. The trick is to make it so people don’t even notice and you can chew gum in private. The other main ideal is to just be aware of what people are reacting to near you. If you are aware of your surroundings, you always have a leg up. Taboos exist for some reason, if you can figure out what the reason is then you have a chance at changing it!
Should you care?
The age old question, we all know things are bad or other people don’t like them, but should you care? It depends, like everything, but I say if you are not hurting anyone then go for it. In this hyper connected world, you are always going to offend someone. It doesn’t matter how you say something, there is going to be a person who has had a different life experience that will take what you said in a different light. SO be respectful and mindful when you can and enjoy your bubble gum!