Does this photo make you feel sad or happy? It makes me feel a lot of regret about times when I would have been one of the people in the picture, and it makes me feel sad that it is still something that is not only a part of Australian young adult culture, but is central to it. We live in a culture where it is expected that people will go out and party at least once every few months, and if you don’t then there’s something… odd about you, it seems. There is room for those who don’t get trashed – mostly, as the designated driver or the one who pulls their friends away when they’re about to punch someone, be punched or make out with a stranger.
Do you think it makes sense?
Here’s my theory. I think we all want excitement and memories and freedom, and the ritual of going out to town and partying feels good. It’s an escape from everyday life where everyone is sort of in this strange trance where for the first time in at least a week, it is acceptable to do almost anything. It’s a freedom to be who you want to be, wear what you want to wear, talk to who you want to talk to, and if you wanted to be really adventurous, go home with whomever you wanted to. Freedom. Choice. Completely out of regular routine.
It sounds appealing. It really does.
But then there’s the hangover. Then there’s the regret. There’s a feeling that while you may have a crazy new memory, that you lost something too. Not keys or a wallet or a phone, but… just… something that you can’t quite put your finger on.
It’s a culture of escape. It’s a culture of pretend and pretense and inhibitions lowered by a substance, not by a feeling of comfort.
There is identity found in Christ, and escape found in him. I don’t mean that you should spend all your time in your room reading the Bible and praying. I mean that God has provided us with ways to celebrate, ways to mourn and ways to… feel free… together. I find those moments around a campfire late at night, or sitting by the ocean alone or with friends… I find those moments in bowling to distract a friend from sadness.
Alcohol, or at least the culture of binge drinking, shouldn’t be so firmly embedded in culture. The image is sad. The image is one that ends with a hangover. The image is one that takes us another step further from the Kingdom, and whether we want to admit it or not, that’s a tragedy.