During our visit to COPIA a couple of months ago, I encountered an exhibit that solicited for visitor opinions on controversial subjects relating to food. One of these subjects referred to the controversy over alcohol and age limits/restrictions.
As most people know, legal drinking age in the United States is 21. What most people do not know is that the drinking age in the U.S. is one of the highest of any nation in the world. Why is that? The popular notion is that this restriction helps stifle irresponsible behavior in teenagers. Pshaw! Most of us know that rules and restrictions seem to only prevent some irresponsible behaviors, but certainly not in most teenagers, by far. C’mon, we were all there once… experimentation and limit testing were the name of the game when we were teens, and the same still rings true for today’s teens.
With my brother going into college this year, this issue rings close to home. With the taste of independence and freedom comes the first taste of alcohol for many… and often, their first taste of irresponsibility and full-on drunkenness. His school has a no-tolerance policy when it comes to alcohol (you can get reprimanded for being caught in the same room as a drunk person, even if you aren’t drinking), but the attitude of the students seems to be different. When we pulled up to the campus on move-in day, there was a house right outside of the entrance that read something to this effect:
Noise Violation: $25
Breaking in your Freshman: Priceless.
Drop off your daughters here!
They aren’t really giving anyone a good impression of the school and its students. It’s really a shame. Apparently, there had been some alcohol-related deaths in the Cal State system in recent years. Why can’t people learn from this?
I can proudly say that in high school, I did not participate in such activities because I chose not to, and my friends/acquaintances respected that. Go ahead, call me a square. I took pride in it. That scene just didn’t interest me, and I could witness first hand how much others get messed up in both the short and long term. Sometimes it was just more fun to see people make complete idiots out of themselves and be able to remember it in the morning. Funny and sad, but true. You can learn a lot from others’ stupid mistakes. It’s just too bad that some teens don’t learn that until it’s too late.
My point here is to bring up discussion about what you think the legal drinking age should be, and/or what do you think we can do, if anything about the youth alcohol issue?
There has been much controversy if we should lower it to the age of eighteen, like many other countries in the world have. I honestly do not think it would help any (if at all), because the stigma surrounding youth and alcohol is really built around our culture. I think that the best solution would be to stop the subversive advertising in the media that says alcohol makes you cooler, that it makes you sexy, that it guarantees a good time. Hey, I didn’t say that it was a feasible solution. But if this were able to change, our attitudes about the sauce would be a lot different.
In some European countries, it is commonplace for everyone to drink with dinner, and be able to stop at only a glass or two. Why do Americans have such a hard time setting limits? Why do we have to be so damn excessive? (afternote: apparently, this is seemingly a perception? I would like to do more research on this topic to be sure)
Then again, advertising is all about creating these atrocious lies to move product anyways. This is something that is embedded in our culture. I think I’m just very sensitive to this particular issue since my work is a lot about promoting, advertising and marketing. I quote the title character from the movie Roger Dodger when he says:
“You can’t sell a product without first making people feel bad… You have to remind them that they’re missing something from their lives… And when they’re feeling sufficiently incomplete, you convince them your product is the only thing that can fill the void. So instead of taking steps to deal with their lives, instead of working to root out the real reason for their misery, they go out and buy a stupid looking pair of cargo pants.”
Amen. That says a lot about our culture.