FOOI #13: Young drinkers aren’t the only bingers
There’s an awful lot of hand-wringing these days over the binge drinking epidemic. Well, here’s a really obvious thought. Maybe all those teenagers and 20-somethings are only living up to the example we’ve set them on all kinds of fronts.
Think about it. Society today is full of bingers. We’re all bingers. We consume anything and everything in ever-increasing proportions, usually to the point of excess and often to the point of vulgarity.
Forget the obvious cases of food and booze for a minute. Take entertainment. Remember the days when you’d passively sit back and wait for your weekly instalment of TV drama? That is sooo 2005.
These days, you storm the video store or some illegal internet site, hire or download the last three series of Mad Men and binge on it over a weekend. Did it rain? Did granny die? Who the hell knows and who the hell cares. Just gimme gimme gimme that clean-shaven Don Draper and Joan’s rotund derriere.
Sport used to be a thing we watched once a week. Now it’s on all the time. When it’s not on, there are people on telly talking about it. When we’re done watching the gibberers, we squirrel ourselves away and work on our fantasy teams. Binge, binge, binge.
We used to consume news once or twice a day at most via the TV or radio. Now the news never stops, whether we consume it via the internet, a 24 hour news channel or a Twitter feed. You could argue it’s healthy that we seek multiple news sources. You could just as easily argue that consuming the same news story several times over is yet another symptom of the “one is never enough” mindset.
Video games used to be something we played for a bit of a laugh. Now, many of us play all night, every night. We play until we pee our pants. Sometimes, we play until we die.
Social media seemed like a great way to stay in touch when it first came along. Now we binge on it too, sending daily a million little pinpricks of mindless social interactivity into the ether. We literally binge on mundanity.
Few in Western societies actually need much in the way of consumer goods these days. Yet airline mags are full of enticements to fly away to Hong Kong or Singapore for a weekend’s shopping. Can you believe that? People actually get on a plane and go shopping for the weekend? Stick your fingers down your throat and purge, because that is one of the worst cases of bingeing imaginable.
Next weeks sees Australia’s annual festival of binge gambling, otherwise known as the Melbourne Cup carnival. The whole gambling industry is tailored to the binge nowadays. Gambling used to be an occasional flutter. Eight races on Saturday, then home to the starving family. Now your family can starve every day of the week with all those 24/7 casinos and online betting portals that never close.
Even our religious festivals have become all about bingeing. Christmas is a consumer binge and an eating binge. Easter is a chocolate binge. Halloween is a lolly binge. Binge, binge, binge, binge, binge.
Not that we need the excuse of a festival to get us a-bingein’. We binge with food these days whether there’s an occasion or not and we do it because telly tells us to, and magazines remind us to replicate the TV bingeing in our own homes. So that’s exactly what we do. Binge-a-rama, baby.
Alcohol is no different. We think we’re being terribly grown up and sophisticated when we match a different wine with each of the 11 courses that Heston Blumenthal told us to cook. But really, we’re just putting the piss away like a teenager guzzling Bacardi Breezers. Binge, binge, binge, binge, binge.
Hey, no one’s saying the kids wouldn’t do well to go a little easier on the booze. But you’d have to say, the rest of us are just as bad. We’re all bingers. And we didn’t start behaving this way yesterday, either.
Indeed, if you’ll excuse the dodgy pun, you’d have to say our behaviour has been a harbinger of things to come.
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