Over the last decade, we've moved from west to east: in 1997 we left Berkeley for Red State, which is somewhere in the middle; in 2005 we moved to East Coast Big City. The meth epidemic has moved with us. In the mid-90s in California, everyone was talking about meth; for the last several years meth has been huge in the midwest; and now, according to Frontline, meth is apparently arriving on the east coast.
It's something of a contemporary gospel that time has elided space and we are becoming one big homogenized global mass. Fashion, music, political protests spread--let's just go for the cliches, while we're at it--like wildfire. You can't tell the difference between the Gap in London and the Gap in Omaha. The whole world is bopping to "Hollaback Girl" on its iPod. Angry Muslims across the world demonstrate simultaneously in front of CNN International cameras.
Why, then, has it taken years for meth to slide across the country? Why has it gone from west to east, rather than coast to middle? (One answer may be that meth skews rural, for socioeconomic--lots of desperate, bored poverty in rural America--and practical--easier to run a meth lab in the middle of nowhere--reasons.)
Another part of the answer may be that this is as much about media attention as meth, which has probably been on the east coast for a lot longer than Frontline producers know--certainly it's been a major presence in the urban gay community for years. Perhaps the issue is less the speed of meth's movement and more the perennial alarmism of the mass media.
I'm not saying meth isn't bad--meth is devastating, and if it is finally coming to the east coast, I wish it wouldn't--but I'm still curious about the sociology of the whole thing: meth, the media, and the mythic status of globalization.