I don't look down on people who drink of course, but I do think the obsession with drinking culture in this country is troubling. There's so much fixation on alcohol as a REQUIRED part of having fun in so many social scenes, and it irritates me that my choice to mostly abstain from it is so instantly offensive to some other people.
First: my policy on alcohol.
I don't have any policy against drinking it. Sometimes I drink it when it's offered to me or when it's considered polite to participate in a toast or a ritual or something. In general, I don't seek it out, nor do I go out of my way to avoid it, but I do start to object to it if people use it as an excuse to act irresponsibly.
Second: my reasons for not drinking it.
- I don't think it tastes very good. If it tastes very close to juice, I might like it a little.
- I don't like being drunk.
- It's expensive.
- It's high calorie and some kinds aren't that good for you.
- Many of the settings where drinking is encouraged are coupled with other things I don't care for (smoky settings, loud music, or socializing with romantic/sexual intent).
I've been drunk maybe twice or three times. I mostly just feel crappy and go to sleep. I don't think it's fun, and furthermore, I am not actively looking for ways to find something that will give me a drunken experience I'll like. You know, like, I'm good, y'all.
Again, I'm not totally against it, and if someone thinks something is good I am usually open to at least giving it a try, but I'm pretty wary at this point since there is SO MUCH about alcohol culture that reminds me of how sexuality is handled in peer pressure situations (i.e., you're stuck up, moralizing, uptight, humorless, and unnatural if you don't partake, and your personal choices are interpreted as judgment of other people, along with the consistent experience of having other people ask you to defend how you feel, tell you you must feel the way you do because you haven't given THEIR way a proper chance, and inappropriate fixation on trying to change your behavior with peer pressure and nagging).
I once wrote about a few of the bullet points in section two above and the personal essay was shared to some Reddit thread where people basically judged me intensely for my statements, saying such lovely things as I was probably really ugly and didn't like to go to clubs or get drunk because I was sad no one would ever hit on me or buy me drinks. They suggested my attitude was born from bitterness, that I was judgmental because I didn't personally participate (you know, and therefore must be judging them for partaking even though I said otherwise in the same essay), and including all sorts of creative ways of calling me a loser. They felt very strongly that I could not have this opinion about alcohol or club culture unless I was personally a pathetic failure who only held these opinions because I couldn't be included even if I wanted to.
It's weird the hoops people will jump through to recontextualize other people's choices as pathetic just because they feel insecure about their own.
I would be lying if I said I had no negative feelings about alcohol, but it's all attached to how some people insist on mistreating me for abstaining. I am able to separate that reaction from alcohol itself and from people who choose to drink without judging me. At this point, as soon as someone assumes I of course drink socially and I have to inform them I do not, I am expecting a negative response. I am expected to be shamed or cajoled, because that is FREQUENTLY what happens. If someone responds neutrally as if I just said I don't like guava juice, I actively feel warmly toward them, assuming they're probably a pretty non-judgmental person who isn't insecure about their own choices, doesn't expect me to judge them for theirs, and doesn't process everyone else's choices for themselves as if it's a judgment of them. My friends in college were mostly like this, and my friends as an adult are all like this. I don't keep friends around who badger me to drink or treat me like my lack of interest in it is a personal flaw or indicative of an inability to have a good time.