I should really post sometime in my serious blog about this issue. Perhaps gather some expert opinions before putting pen to paper. Make it an essay-quality post with facts to back it up. But that’s not what I do here on this blog; this is simply my opinion.
I have rarely been in a situation wherein I am peer pressured to do something, and of the times that I have been, I’ve never been successfully pressured into doing anything. In fact, if there’s something I’d rather not do, I’d say that there’s no possible way of getting me to do it short of physically forcing me to do whatever it may be. My stubbornness is a good quality in that I am easily able to avoid potentially bad situations, but it comes at a cost: if you go against the group, you alienate yourself from the group.
The drinking problem is one that faces all universities; safety, education, well-being, student retention, atmosphere, etc. In the beginning, the US government withheld highway funds from states that refused to raise their state drinking age from 18 to 21, and eventually it became almost unanimous: technicalities aside, the age is 21. Does turning 21 give you some sort of knowledge that the 20-and-under crowd just can’t understand? Some scientists say (weasel words, too tired to look up the facts) that the brain isn’t fully developed until age 21, but by observing all the stories of people turning 21 and spending the day binge drinking, I’m not sure that it changes anything for some people.
I would argue that under-21′s are treated as second-class citizens in a sense; banned from a major, major part of world culture. Heck, even most of the world would agree with that, as the US is one of the only countries that has a drinking age that’s set so high. I would also agree that, for our safety, these laws should remain in place (though does it really stop people?)
As for me, I’m part of the 28% who don’t drink in this country. (at least, according to that survey) I guess I’ve just never been interested in alcohol, never curious, never even once. Growing up, I neither saw nor heard too much about drinking except in those education classes that said that it’d kill you no matter what. To quote one of my substitute teachers from middle school, “this stuff is boring, so to make you interested in learning about it they have to scare you to get you to pay attention.” Starting with the very day I was born it feels like I was given an eternal clipboard and pen and quizzed about my use of alcohol, drugs*, and tobacco (*No shoplifting, murder, or skateboarding, kids. Alcohol and tobacco aren’t drugs, they’re their own separate category). I cannot go one semester without getting an email about some drinking survey, and it seems like every quarter I get an email about a drug survey. I’ve never used any illegal drugs (or legal prescription ones that aren’t prescribed to me) and I’ve already discussed my stance on alcohol and my upbringing, so these surveys are as alien to me as is any certain particle of snow in Antarctica. In other words, I do not know alcohol.
I don’t know what people see in it or why they act the way they do while under its influence, and from what I’ve seen (which isn’t a whole lot), it isn’t a lifestyle choice I’m very eager to make. Perhaps when I’m 21, but by then I’ll of course be able to make a more rational, informed decision with my fully developed brain. Others, however, and the vast majority of others that I’ve encountered in my proximity, do see something in drinking, and partake of it quite often. I’m not going to go into the whole debate about legality, as that old horse has been beaten to death too many times (and will receive another round sometime soon if I ever get to posting about this on my serious blog) but tonight, I was around a group in which everyone except a significantly small number of others (who had all drank before) and myself. I believe that they’re still out there somewhere, conversing and laughing, engaging in their hijinks. Perhaps I’m no fun, but I fail to see the fun in sitting around for hours and just talking about nothing. (I also fail to see the point of going to parties, but that’s another story.) Perhaps I simply can’t relate to these people, perhaps I don’t share the same common experiences. Perhaps I don’t share the same interests. Perhaps it’s because I’m sober. Whatever the reason, an invitation was presented to me to partake in their illicit activities. (Wow, that sentence was all Joseph Ducreux up in here) Now, I have a great deal of respect for the people who I was with, because from the second that I said “No,” that was the end of it. No peer pressuring tactics were used. No sense of shame in going against the group was created. No hard feelings were had. In fact, the whole situation played out in opposition to the many situations that I’ve seen in all those pointless education classes. Despite this fact, unspoken pressure still existed, which I’ll attribute to the atmosphere. The groupthink of which everyone was doing it. Solomon Asch would agree with me on this one: had I had any doubt in my mind about my disposition, I may well have given in.
The fact that I didn’t, however, isolated me from the group, and while I remained steadfast in my actions and beliefs and never gave into any type of pressure, nothing was lost nor gained by my actions. Had I chosen to drink, I would say I’d have all to lose and nothing to gain, but I don’t know; I’ve never tried it.
In conclusion, this is exactly 1,000 words I wrote. Why can’t I write like this on important stuff, like my essays?