Binge: a short period of time devoted to indulging in an activity to excess.
Binging has become a sort of phenomenon in our society in recent years. We binge everything. Netflix, social media, YouTube; hell, even text messaging has become a sort of binge. We want what we want, and we want a lot of it. Right now. These binges have become our normal. Being only 21, I don’t remember much of a time before binging things was accessible to me. For me, binging has almost become a mindset. I don’t enjoy waiting for things. I don’t enjoy the anticipation of a wait. And this mentality has bled into many parts of my life, including some not so great parts.
I was a big binge drinker. It was my biggest issue with alcohol. I could go a week, sometimes even weeks without a drink, but what I couldn’t do was only have one beer at a party. If I was going to drink I was going to get wasted. I didn’t see the point in one beer. I drank to get drunk, I drank to get fucked up. I wanted that buzz and I wanted it quickly. And when you’re young, sadly, this drinking behavior isn’t really too abnormal.
Although binging things like television shows may be new, binge drinking is not a new phenomenon. Binge drinking has been around for a long time, especially in younger aged people, but what I want to talk about is why it is so normalized for college aged people. Because college binge drinking has been served up to us like it’s this normal part of life. Like it’s this induction to alcohol. Almost like we must first “learn the ropes” before we can drink “responsibly.” But, honestly, this is just bull shit. No one should have to “learn the ropes” of something in such a dangerous way. And if this is true, if we, as people, have to “learn” the correct way to drink in such a dangerous manner should we really be doing it?
College binge drinking is dangerous. It just is. It’s not this harmless little activity that young people engage in, even though a lot of people like to act like it is. College binge drinking affects a lot of things. It leads to a lot of scary things like: driving drunk, alcohol poisoning, unsafe sex, mental health problems and, sometimes, brain damage. And these things don’t just impact the individual engaging in the binging, it can effect anyone who comes in contact with the individual.
I am lucky that I never caused physical harm to anyone other than myself during my binge drinking days. The amount of times I got behind the wheel of a car intoxicated makes me ill to think about. But, even though I may not have physically injured anyone with my drinking, other than the one night I punched my brother (sorry bro, love you though), I emotionally injured people all the time. Form manipulating family members into perpetuating my drinking, to telling an entire party one of my then-girlfriend’s secrets, I really did some damage. And I see this behavior reflected back to me from a lot of my other young peers, but it’s okay, because we’re just “young, dumb and having fun”. Again, no. That’s. Just. Bull. Shit.
And it doesn’t just stop with the damage we are doing to others through our binge drinking, because the damage we are doing to ourselves is sometimes even greater. The amount of times I caused physical damage to myself, either purposefully or accidentally, while binging also makes me ill to think about. And the emotional damage I did to myself can’t even compare to that.
But even with all this damage, for some reason it is still normalized in young culture. Binge drinking is looked at as a fun way to relax on the weekends. But when binging becomes an every weekend thing it really starts to take a toll. And what I just can’t understand is why someone my mother’s age, who is found engaging in this type of behavior, would be looked at as having a severe problem, but someone my age, engaging in this type of behavior, would be looked at as just having fun. Because I can say from personal experience this type of lifestyle isn’t fun. And we, as young people, can fool ourselves into thinking it is very easily, especially when it’s what everyone around us seems to be doing. But I truly do not believe anyone who is participating in the party lifestyle is actually having fun. The amount of drunken tears I have witnessed spilled far outweighs the amount of drunken laughs I have witnessed had.
And this is where I truly hope one day there will be a space for young people to go to talk about this honestly. A space to let all the bull shit out, and a space to connect with other young people struggling with these issues. Because it isn’t fair to young people to keep normalizing this behavior when it is causing so much damage. And it isn’t fair to keep painting this party lifestyle as glamorous when it isn’t.
Because let me tell you, it is so fucking confusing when you wake up from a night out of drinking, severely depressed from the amount of alcohol you ingested the night before, and your culture’s cure to your sadness is… more binge drinking.
So, if you’re out there still participating in this lifestyle and feeling down, sad, depressed, confused as to why you can’t “hang” with the others, let me tell you a secret: no one is truly “hanging” because binge drinking every weekend is not a normal thing. It is not something our bodies and minds were made to do. You are NOT the weird one. Society is the weird one. And I love you so much it hurts.