The High Low - Why 1/3 of Gen Z Don’t Drink
The element of this week’s High Low podcast episode that really stood out to me was the section discussing why a third of Gen Z doesn’t drink.
We could be seeing the biggest generation gap between Gen Z and Millennials. I was shocked when I heard that 30% of 16-24 year olds don’t drink at all. Not drinking myself, left me very worried and in some ways segregated when I came to uni, being placed in a flat with drinkers who failed to respect my personal choice. It is in many ways reassuring to hear that I am not alone in my decision. I personally do it for health and partly for medical reasons - also I have no desire either, it just doesn’t appeal to me.
It is historically the norm to drink at that age, there is the myth that you are unable to go to a party without drinking. Generation Z are mostly a mindful generation and more informed about impacts on health. The pressure has completely shifted - now there is perhaps less pressure to drink, but more pressure to work out and look good on Instagram.
Perhaps as a result of Instagram holding such a visual record of the night, individuals don’t want to dare go for it in fear of an unflattering story or pictures being posted. I know even I am very careful about what I post.
I really resonated with the opinion of Scarlett Curtis, activist and author of ‘Feminists Don’t Wear Pink’ who struggles around people who are drinking. Being around drunk people makes me feel anxious; I have just never been able to understand why people would want to lose control of their whole selves. It is the altering of behaviour and feeling unwell the next day that just doesn’t appeal to me.
A potential reason for this increase in percentage could be that people are so busy and have so many things to do; we are overwhelmed with work, uni, social media, etc. Therefore I know that I am worried that if I do go out often, I wouldn’t be making the most of education to ensure my hard work pays off. The productivity factor is important for me - doing my work the next day is not an option.
Charley Cox gives an alternative view, drinking when she is more anxious and stressed. It’s her way of dealing with things. This is the case for a large number of the population because alcohol is market as a form of relaxation and is very accessible in today’s society.
I think I just have a greater awareness of my future health. I think this topic is such a personal thing and how you view alcohol. I feel that alcohol is often a too easy way of pushing stresses out of your mind but this is just like sticking on a plaster and doesn’t deal with the root of the problem. The idea of wellness and being well-slept is relatively new but we now live in a world that has a greater open dialogue when it comes to troubling relationships with alcohol and the dangers of habitual mindless drinking so support is out there.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not against people drinking, just I’d rather see more people doing this in a more mindful way, rather than to dim anxieties or rely on it to gain confidence in a social situation. Within Gen Z there is so much talking, thinking and discussing, also so much knowledge about the effects of things. This in some ways can be a hindrance to me, stopping me making certain choices out of fear. However, in general, I feel that this openness and awareness is a good thing: we are finding other ways to have time off and relieve these worries.
I am possibly a typical Gen Z, finding an exercise class, yoga or lunch with my family a way to clear my mind. However, I completely understand that wellness and self-care is a luxury and we are possibly in danger of over controlling our every move, meaning there is more guilt attached to things that don't make us feel like we are at optimum. Not relying on alcohol as a crutch however, allows us to fully actualise ourselves.