Imagine that, 20 years from now, there was no more alcohol. No wine, no spirits, and absolutely no beer.
Would you be alarmed? Would you envision a desolate Mad Max wasteland of anguished souls? Or would that scenario make you happy?
I'm largely a teetotaler, but it's not a moral objection. I hate the taste of beer and I'm too lowbrow for wine. Spirits and liqueurs are okay, but I'm happier with a water or soda. Not to mention that it's a lot cheaper. The only reason I ever try alcohol is to see what all the fuss is about. It's a popular pastime, but I don't understand why.
When people find out I don't drink beer, many look at me like there is something wrong with me. Alternatively, they reply "I didn't like the taste of beer either, but I kept having it until I learnt to like it". Peer-pressure is alive and well, though not always so obvious in its application.
Back to our fictional future beerless dystopia... would it really be that bad? Not for me obviously, but how about for everyone else?
To answer this, we need to look at why we drink alcohol.
1) We drink to forget our problems.
It doesn't make our problems go away. At best, we are distracted from them temporarily. More commonly, drinking while sad only amplifies the sadness.
2) We drink to make ourselves more light-hearted and less boring.
There is the old line "I drink to make you seem more interesting". If we can distort our reality enough, our perception of it is improved. What a sober person notices is that drunk people are terribly boring, except when you are watching them fall over. Having a conversation with a drunk person is a conversation in vain.
3) We drink because it's fun.
Some have so much fun that they are vomiting, getting into fights, waking up with people they would never sleep with sober and smelling atrocious. Good times? Really?
4) Some drink because it is their unintended religion.
They make sure they do it every weekend. They give large sums of money to it. It's necessary for celebration and a place to seek comfort when times are difficult. They exalt it with the other disciples. It is their amber deity.
After the delusion, here is the reality:
- If you need alcohol to enjoy your company, it's not good company.
- If you need alcohol to enjoy music, it's not good music.
- If you need alcohol to be more fun, you aren't fun to begin with and you certainly aren't fun when drunk.
- Alcohol won't enhance an experience, it will only dull or numb you to it.
- If you need alcohol to cope with your problems, you aren't coping with your problems.
Why are we dull unless we are drunk enough to be fooled into thinking we are fun? What is so wrong with our personalities and interactions?
Here's some secrets from a teetotaler that I will let you in on:
- You don't need to be drunk to dance.
- Drunk people are really boring to talk to.
- When I have fun, I love being able to remember it.
- I save a fortune driving home instead of catching taxis.
- I have never had to apologise to a friend for vomiting in their car/bed/priceless antique.
Admittedly, some handle alcohol better than others and these people are probably accusing me of hyperbole at this point. But ask yourself, what are you getting from alcohol that you aren't getting from living life sober?
Sobriety has this negative association. But really, being sober is living life with no filter.
If we were a society where alcohol wasn't so prominent, would it really be so bad? Or would it be really enjoyable? Would it force us to be interesting people?
Perhaps the solution to seek is not to escape the drudgery of our lives, but instead to make our interactions more interesting, more life-giving. You are more likely to achieve that while sober than drunk.
I'm making a wild prediction. I predict that alcohol is going to become less fascinating as people amplify their lives through natural highs. I predict that friendships won't need beer to make them worthwhile. I predict that our interactions and recreation will be more rewarding away from the bottle.
What is the reason you drink? Would you and your friends be more fun if you didn't drink? And if the answer is no, ask yourself if your friends are actually fun to begin with.