The other day I saw a post that caught my eye, and I could not stop looking at it. I sat there pondering the photo trying to both make sense of it and why I was compelled to keep looking at it. I've seen posts like it before. There was nothing really noteworthy about it. Nevertheless, there I was staring at a photograph and thinking, "Why the fuck do we post shit like that?" I say we because even though I would no longer post such things, I used to, and so have you. The post was incredibly simple. It was a photograph of a glass filled with alcohol and some ice, sitting on a counter. That's it. I stared at it for quite some time before finally shaking my head and moving on with my life. Why did I spend so much time looking at the photograph and pondering the motivation behind it? Because that simple little post, the alcoholic selfie, shows the reverence we hold for alcohol. Not only that, but it also shows our absolute ignorance of the problem.
Social media is amazing, it is terrifying, and it is also incredibly powerful and debilitating. It is part of what is good in our society but it is also part of what is wrong with our society. Whatever your views are of social media, it has a strong presence and role in our lives. I am willing to bet every single one of you has at one time or another, deliberated about quitting social media. Yet, here you are, and here I am. Social media is undoubtedly tough to get away from. We use it for so many things in our daily lives. We use it for communication, celebration, humor, news, passing time, employment, etc... I think one of the reasons it is so difficult to get away from is the benefits generally outweigh the costs. At least, that is what we tell ourselves.
We post selfies of our most fun, most entertaining, most interesting,
and most likely to receive accolades moments
Nevertheless, one of the most prominent uses of social media lies in our desire to share the joys in our lives. We want people to know how well we are doing. We want our friends and family to see how productive, fun, interesting, and engaging we are. We love receiving likes and comments about our photographs and witty posts. It fuels our soul and gives us purpose. Look at any feed, including mine, and you will see mostly posts reflecting accomplishments, experiences, and selfies. Not selfies of daily struggle, but selfies of us at our best. We post selfies of our most fun, most entertaining, most interesting, and most likely to receive accolades moments. What we post is what we want you to believe about us and our lives. In a way, it is kind of like advertising. We are marketing ourselves to you so you will like us or think we are cool, fun, amazing, interesting, and worldly.
That brings me back to the alcohol selfie. If what we are trying to do is market ourselves to the public, what role does alcohol play in our advertising? Apparently, it plays an incredibly strong and important role. Look at your feeds. How many alcohol-related posts do you see? How many photos or memes include a glass, can, bottle, shot, label, or declaration of our devotion to alcohol? Granted, celebrating with alcohol has been part of our lives forever. Of course, we want to document a group photograph depicting an achievement. But, why the alcohol? Why is it so necessary to have a drink in our hands? How many times have you said, "Wait, let me get my drink," before taking a selfie? Why is it so important for us to show the world our willingness to partake in and perpetuate the use of a toxic substance? It doesn't make any sense if you stop and spend any amount of time thinking about it.
A photograph of nothing but alcohol is likely to sit right next to a photograph of our children
My partner and I were watching Shameless the other day. Yeah, I know, bare with me. Frank Gallagher made a proclamation I feel is important to this conversation. He said, "It is none of your business what I decide to put into or do to my body." This is a true statement. It isn't any of my business. However, just because your decisions are none of my business, that does not mean they do not affect me, my children, my friends, my family, and everyone else around you. They do. And the more we accept the wild propagation of alcohol as the norm, the more we are all negatively affected. We are all more likely to become addicted on some level, and less likely to see the abhorrent nature of alcohol. We have ingrained the necessity of alcohol in our lives to such an extent that we celebrate the substance like we do graduation, marriage, birthday, or childbirth. A photograph of nothing but alcohol is likely to sit right next to a photograph of our children, our family, and our most important life moments.
The above photograph is of me drinking a beer. I had no real reason to post it, I drank lots of beers back then. I just felt it necessary to post a photograph of me drinking alcohol. I guess I wanted to make sure you all knew I did, in fact, drink alcohol. I wouldn't want you to think I didn't, that would be just awful. Here is the photograph I posted just prior to the beer-drinking photograph:
Here is the photograph I posted just after: