Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Sober Young Man

I have chosen not to drink alcohol recreationally. I have never had alcohol, aside from a sip or two to see what it tastes like (really, very bad.) I have never been drunk, and I never ever plan on changing that. I have my reasons why, but here isn't where I'll explain them. I want to talk about what it's like to be a sober young person.

It's very lonely.
One of the more difficult points to make is how alienating the sensation can be. I don't drink, so I don't understand what the excitement feels like. I often see among my friends and people I know, a constant longing and zealousness for casual and binge drinking. I have my thoughts on this, but this often means I can't really join in on the fun of waiting to be drunk either.

Often, between young people there isn't much of a connection. This isn't to say that all relationships are invalid, but many 'friends' only have alcohol in common. Perhaps these low-level friendships based on blood alcohol level eventually bring good connections, but most don't and they're not intended for that. My peers might say these people are their friends because they're fun to be around. Again, a concept I don't understand. For me, friends exist on a plane that is without this fun modifier. I choose my friends based on how much I like them, if our personalities are compatible, if our morals and world views face the same direction, and if they make me comfortable. Turns out that the last one is the most important. If someone can make me comfortable, then everything else will line up (or line up enough.)

Since alcohol is the binding line for many people, I'm often left out of conversations. If anyone wanted to talk about interaction design, keyboard layouts, the history of video games, or the gases that make up Jupiter, I'd be on board all the way. Conversations start about daily activities, and then lurk into future activities. Future normally means drinking or parties. I don't do either.

An anecdote. The first party I ever went to, I was 16 or 17 (it was a sweet 16, for sure no one was drinking). It was in the pool house of a gated community. The party was filled with people a little younger than me, but I knew everyone there. For the most part, they were people I liked. About 15 or 20 minutes after I arrived, the DJ had finished setting up and started playing music. The music was so loud, that I couldn't hear anything else. I thought this was a joke (again, this was my first party) or an error. Certainly the music volume would be lowered to an enjoyable state. It didn't, and that was probably the most miserable three hours of my life.

This leaves me to be alone most of the time. I also don't smoke cigarettes or any kind of drugs.

What's weird about this, is often I'm told it's the right thing to do. I get comments like "keep it up" and "that's great." I used to be called innocent too, but I haven't heard that in a while. If I'm making the right decision, why does no one act that way. If, in discussion, not drinking is the best thing to do, why does everyone act like drinking is the most significant action of their week?

I have such a hard time making friends because I don't drink. My friends also seem to have a hard time inviting me anywhere because I don't drink. They feel bad, because being the sober person in a group of drunk people is the worst. It is, but I'm done being alone.


overscan68000 said...

I never used to like the idea of drinking initially, pretty much for the reasons you say, and I didn't want to become not in control of myself.

If your friends are having some drinks, perhaps you could join in socially. It helps you meet people simply by proximity, even if you only drink soft drinks. I initially didn't like the taste of alcohol, but it is an acquired taste, and I enjoy a nice beer after work occasionally now.

I think it's natural for a 'thinker' to question drinking and immediately discount it, but it's just a way of being social. I have a friend who doesn't drink, but he would always join on nights out to bars and pubs for the company. He was always kinda kooky, so I don't think he even really needed alcohol to be outgoing.

I agree that the loud music is obnoxious. It just isn't to some people's tastes, and that's okay- nothing to be ashamed of at all. If anything, those sorts of destinations will be unlikely to attract people of a similar mindset to yourself, so I doubt you're missing out in that respect!

Zac Manman said...

I actually wouldn't mind just drinking a coke alongside form friends who are enjoying a beer, but from what I've heard and seen, my friends feel bad that I'm surrounded by people drinking in a place where the only goal is to get drunk. I don't mind it so much, I don't need much to really be entertained. Being with my friends is fun in itself, and I don't normally form expectations.

I doubt I'll ever drink. I said that I have my reasons, but this really isn't the place for them. I'm not sure I'm ready to talk about some of them, but at least I've gotten to a point where people have stopped telling me that they'll get me drunk. I even have friends who tell me that they'll buy me a soda if I go out with them. The level of respect has gotten much higher with age. I think teenagers and early 20-somethings have a hard time accepting sobriety.

I don't demonize people who drink, but I used to. I still have a bias against it, but I try to control it. Only people who ONLY talk about drinking annoy me now, but I find I can steer conversations away form alcohol with a little effort. Unfortunately, no one wants to talk about the history of type writers or the intricacies of Gamer Gate.

I hate loud noises, and generally don't like loud people. I accept loud music in clubs and bars now, but I for sure don't enjoy it. I wish my apartment were larger, and I had a bigger entertainment system. I'd just bring people over, buy them some beers and hang.

Also, I hate bars that let people smoke in them. That's just wrong (and pseudo against the law in Florida.)