Kris talks some sense
There are two statements one can make in Ireland nowadays that will result in a look of incredulity/suspicion.
1. ‘I’m not on Facebook.’ 2. ‘I don’t drink.’ While I’m not on Facebook, I do like to have a drink now and again. Yet when I say ‘drink’, I mean one or two – three at a maximum if it’s a long night out.
Nope, I’m not a halfhearted Pioneer. Thankfully nor have I had bad experiences around alcohol throughout my childhood. In fact, when I was a teenager, I even went through a phase of having a lot more than three drinks (intakes of breath all round – drinking pun not intended!) In fact, I think that over a certain time period, this is to be expected. As teenagers we are naturally curious about something that has been kept at arms length from us for most of our lives, something that we have witnessed those older than us indulging in. Yet, I don’t feel that a permanent lengthy or weekly abuse of alcohol by anyone, old or young, should be expected nor looked upon with reverence.
A few scoops
I see the appeal of drink. Now and again, I enjoy the nice relaxing feeling that washes over you as you sit having a pint or two with friends. I get that now and again, it can serve as a sort of ‘social bonding session.’ I also see the attraction of losing your inhibitions, having experienced anxiety throughout my adolescence. Yet, what I don’t see the appeal of is hangovers. Waking up following a night of knocking back copious amount of alcohol, riddled with what X Factor contestant Lucy Spraggan so articulately labelled Beer Fear, feeling like you’ve just completed ten rounds with Katie Taylor, without a drop of water in between each bout. It’s not exactly how someone should aspire to feel on a Sunday morning, is it?
Yet, it seems that this is just how many people aim to feel at the weekend. In fact, it appears that being hungover is something to brag about. It seems that the more incapacitated one is the following morning, the more kudos given. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with letting loose on a night out and having fun, but why the incapability of drawing the line? What happened to not only knowing your limit, but also wanting to stay within it?
While its bad enough to see young lads drinking to excess, it’s another seeing girls my age and younger downing vodka as if it’s tap water. As much as women match and often excel over men in many departments, drink is not and never will be one such area. Why? Well, it boils down to simple biology. The average woman weighs less than the average man and therefore has less tissue to absorb alcohol. Women also have a proportionally higher ratio of fat to water than men, which means that we are less able to dilute alcohol within our bodies. Apart from these facts, are girls (and guys) honestly not aware of the negative effects that abusing alcohol week in week out over a lengthy period of time can potentially cause in regard to their health?
What about the potential for addiction? Or the very real danger of being physically or sexually assaulted? I know I know, it’s the old ‘it won’t happen to me’ mentality. We are all guilty of it in some way or another, yet without meaning to freak people out, it could happen. If you are falling around drunk in the middle of the night in a city or town, vaguely aware of your surroundings and far from being in control of your own body, you are at risk of something bad happening to you.
Sure enough, I will undoubtedly be seen by some as what us Irish have so bluntly named a ‘dry sh**e’, but anyone who knows me knows that without blowing my own trumpet, I can be the life and soul of a party having had two bottles of Budweiser, or two glasses of Diet Coke. It’s not some special talent of mine, it’s something which many young Irish people are capable of doing, but getting locked on a night out is now so embedded in the routine of our social lives that nobody is stopping to think about why they are drinking or whether they even want to drink. People are not drinking for the pleasure of drinking. In fact the quicker the drink can be consumed the better, preferably as part of a pre-drinking session on a Dublin Bus on the way into the City Centre.
Like many people, I have been watching Des Bishops program Under the Influence on RTE with great interest. His own experience of alcohol addiction, his original humour mixed in with his knowledge of not only our language but our people, make this a must see documentary. Yet, when I saw those images of people falling around what he has termed Stumblesville I was honestly embarrassed for our country. Imagine what anyone from abroad would think if they saw that footage? I’m no tourism expert, but I think it’s safe to say that if that footage is spread outside of Ireland, we can kiss all of the hard work done by the Gathering goodbye. Sure, I know our love of a pint of Guinness is what endears us to tourists, but I’m sure the footage captured by Des and his crew would not be part of the images they associate with our nation.
Take Paddy’s Night for example. As we saw on episode one of Under the Influence, Paddy’s Day takes an ominous turn as the evening draws in. In fact, most Irish people that I know don’t even bother with the Parade. They’ve really no interest in celebrating anything related to St. Patrick’s Day. In fact, if a drink were not involved, it may as well be just another manic Monday, awoken to with a depressive mindset.
Instead, the day itself is all about getting pissed. It’s actually come to the point now where many are leaving the City Centre before the sun goes down or in some cases giving the City Centre a miss due to the animalistic lunacy that goes on. I mean, this is Ireland – a neutral country. Not the war-torn Gaza strip. Why should any of us feel unsafe or uncomfortable in our city on a national holiday?
Des Bishop is right when he says it’s not easy to change something which is engrained in our culture. But I think the real question is…do we want to change our drinking culture? Well I do. So…who’s with me?
List of Informative articles around the negative affects of abusing alcohol:
College Drinking Prevention