I am sure this will be one of my most unpopular blog posts ever. Even though it’s widely agreed upon that alcohol tastes disgusting the first time you try it, almost everyone you know drinks, and drinks regularly. In fact some people would say that it’s impossible to truly have fun without drinking alcohol. I’ve never understood any of this.
They say that alcohol is an acquired taste, but why exactly is this a taste I want to acquire? Nearly everything about drinking seems illogical to me:
- It’s one of the leading causes of death in the United States (1 in 4000 people die because of alcohol every year! That’s an insanely high number)
- We all know at least one person who is generally pleasant but turns into a raving asshole as soon as they drink. Let’s be honest, we probably all know at least a dozen.
- We almost all know at least one person who is dead because of alcohol (or drugs). I know plenty more than one. I mean these people are dead and if they never drank alcohol they would be alive. That’s a pretty big deal!
Now it’s obvious that alcohol has plenty of positives as well. People don’t do something for hundreds and even thousands of years, unless it feels good and makes them happy. And most drinkers you know are probably doing so responsibly and safely. But I also think that the very idea of abstaining from alcohol is absent in today’s culture, and it shouldn’t be. It’s just an absolute given that all kids will go from sober to drinkers once they get into college or turn 21.
Let me make one thing clear: I don’t think there is anything wrong with the fact that you drink alcohol. That’s not why I’m writing this. I’m writing this because there are a lot weird misconceptions around alcohol and how you “have to drink it”. For example:
- People will think you’re weird if you don’t drink: No they won’t. If they do, and I haven’t encountered this yet, then they aren’t worth your time anyway. Anyone who seriously judges you because you don’t drink something, is a ridiculous human being.
- You won’t be able to have fun if you don’t drink: Also not true. I went the first 20 years of my life scared to dance. I absolutely refused to do it. Eventually I started dancing and I had to learn to do it without drinking. I think that so many people start drinking at such a young age, that they never had to learn to do certain things while sober.
- You won’t be able to have fun with your friends if they are drinking and you aren’t: Also not true. Drunk people can be fun, sober people can be fun, this isn’t really rocket science. I’ve had lots of amazing nights while being the only sober one in the group.
Why is it that I’ve never had alcohol? I honestly don’t know. I did have a few sips when I was fifteen and the fact that I didn’t like the taste probably helped. If it tasted like donuts I’d probably be too drunk right now to write this blog.
I also think I’ve always been pretty immune to peer pressure. The fact that everyone else does something almost never has any affect on me if it seems that it would be undesirable to do that thing.
Throughout my life, including my childhood and teenage years, I have seen the most vile and disgusting behavior from drunk people (but who hasn’t)? A man almost died in my bathroom from alcohol poisoning when I was 12 years old.
At the closing ceremony at the recent U.S. Chess Championship, in no surprise, a few people got unbelievably drunk. At this ceremony there are also some extremely young girls, who just played in the U.S. Women’s Chess Championship. One of them in particular was complaining to me about how drunk some people were, how they were behaving, and how it was scary. What’s weird is despite this normal reaction that most children have around very drunk people, society still finds a way to get them to start drinking. Young kids find drunk adults to be completely ridiculous.
Another secret benefit to never drinking: It will save you a ton of money over your lifetime. When I was 22 years old, living in Brooklyn and didn’t make a ton of money, I would hear adults with regular full time jobs complaining about how little money they had. Meanwhile I would see them routinely drop $50 in a single night on alcohol. To me, $50 was the amount of money you’d spend on a super special occasion. For them it was Tuesday night. You have to understand that for someone who didn’t drink at all, and therefore spent $0 on it, this seemed completely insane. I just wanted to yell at them “of course you have money problems, you spend all your money on alcohol and drugs!”
I had lots of friends who made a ton of money playing poker. I also had a lot of these same friends who lost all the money that they made. In nearly every case alcohol and drugs were involved.
I have fun pretty much all the time, so it’s hard to even imagine what personal benefit there could be to alcohol or drugs. But I’m sure that if you have a different personality than I do, there may be lots of reasons why you in particular should drink alcohol. I’m not saying that no one should ever drink. What I’m saying is that more young people should think more critically and independently about their decision to try drinking in the first place.
I know a lot of kids read my blog, so I’m going to make this conclusion pretty clear for them:
You do not have to drink or do drugs to be popular. Literally no one important cares. You can go your entire life without ever trying it and you won’t be missing out on something important or special. If you do decide to drink, you’ll probably be completely fine too, but you increase the chance of some terrible alcohol related thing happening to you.