I am an unhealthy piece of garbage. Alcohol is what fuels me, while cigarettes have replaced breakfast and/or dinner on more than one occasion. Is this a good thing? I personally think so. Our generation has become the generation that is afraid of everything. We’re afraid of getting all the cancers, all the STDs, and we’re even afraid of entering a building that doesn’t have Wi-Fi. I’m not saying we should abandon all fear and live a reckless life. Obviously, it’s good to be fearful. It’s good to take precautions. However, I believe we are the generation that’s taking things too far. We’re the metaphorical “poindexters” in comparison to earlier generations of young adults who didn’t have to rely on their number of Twitter followers to boost their self-esteem. The little shred of hope I had left for us was our love of alcohol. I was under the impression that no matter how gluten free our lifestyle got, no matter how many start-ups we got fired from, and no matter how many e-cigarettes we purchased, that we’ll always love making huge drunken embarrassments of ourselves on a Friday night.
It’s looking more and more like I might be wrong. In recent years, studies have been released showing the gradual decline of our generation’s desire to get wasted. The Guardian reported in March that there are less heavy drinkers between the ages of 16-24 in the UK. In men, it dropped from 32% to 22%, and from 22% to 18% in women since 2007. At first, none of this made sense to me, especially considering the rise of alcohol-inspired idiotic stunts amongst teens which include shoving vodka soaked tampons up butts, and smoking alcohol (which I have tried).
Now, around five months after the initial Guardian report, a new study published by the Economist shows that there is a huge rise in the sale of non-alcoholic beverages. This means we are deliberately choosing not to drink alcohol. We are spending our hard-earned money on a beverage that is meant to mimic beer, rather than be it. It could be that we are growing to prefer the taste instead of the effects. Granted, a lot of the rise in sales is attributed to consumers in the Middle East, many of whom do not ingest alcohol for religious reasons, but what does the Economist have to say about the rest of us? “Many Western teenagers are playing on games consoles or chatting on Facebook rather than illicitly swigging cider in the park.”
There it is. That’s it! We are in the golden age of the internet, and it’s our love of being online that leads to our diminished interest in drinking. As our desire for getting drunk dwindles, our addiction to the internet grows. I took psychology classes in college. I know all about correlation not leading to causation. However, I still can’t help but feel that the internet is basically the new alcohol.
We often consume alcohol in social situations. Having a few drinks musters up liquid courage. We rely on this courage to help us interact with strangers or more importantly, flirt with an attractive person we spot across the room. Sober flirting involves a lot of self-consciousness. Is there something on my face? Did I just say something really stupid? Does my hat look too much like a fedora and not enough like a sun hat? Why am I wearing a sun hat indoors? Wait, what did he just say? Crap, I was too busy thinking about my dumb hat. But now, we rely on the mask that is social media to make us feel cool and calm. We can have a charming conversation in the privacy of our own bedroom, wearing the cow print pajamas grandma got us for our birthday and still feel confident enough to ask someone on Facebook chat, “what are you wearing?” hoping that they don’t answer, “cow print pajamas”.
Some might argue that another factor leading to the demise of heavy alcohol consumption is the increased use of marijuana. Pot being legal, or at least more decriminalized in many parts of the world, especially in the US, means more young folks want to get high as opposed to get drunk. Getting high is pretty cool, right? We prefer drugs over drinking. Sounds badass. Yeah well, it totally would be if only we didn’t have to exaggerate having life threatening migraines in order to get permission from a doctor to smoke it. Regardless, this is a valid point, but pot is still not at the social level that alcohol is. Social pot smoking happens in a living room, with three or four close friends who just want to laugh at a viewing of The Matrix on mute with you. It’s better than nothing, but is not what’s going to save us from the coolness killer that is the internet.
I realize that it’s morally wrong to complain about people my age choosing good clean fun over debaucherous life-threatening fun, but I mean come on. Look at us. Alcohol is the last beacon of hope in a world filled with debates on Reddit over whether or not Grumpy Cat should have an AMA. If we keep this up, it’s only going to get worse. If we let the internet replace alcohol, that will destroy the concept of an actual social life. We’ll never want to leave our rooms. Our skin will grow pale, our bodies weak. Carpal tunnel will gift us disability leave from work, or we’ll just permanently work from home. We won’t wash for days, which will turn into weeks, then months. All we’ll be is fat, greasy, sad clumps typing “lol” into conversations while not really laughing. As a society, we tend to emphasize the damage drinking does, forgetting the positives. Go to a bar, get drunk, take shots with your friends, meet strangers, and be a human being. Don’t drive home, and don’t wear a sun hat. Seriously, the fate of humanity rests on this.