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Why Are So Many Gen-Z Teetotal?

Why Are So Many Gen-Z Teetotal?

I’m writing this as a slightly-hungover-but-definitely-very-tired working girl. It’s the third day of my new job and I decided to go to a dinner and a night of jazz yesterday eve (very fancy, I know). I went to Louie if any of you are interested – it was fantastic: the food, the atmosphere, the wine list, and the interiors. Apparently managed by the ex-manager of Chiltern Firehouse, it had all the flair and pomp that makes Chiltern so fab (but without all the rude staff). The waiters weren’t wearing custom Emilia Wickstead either, but they were impeccably dressed, and my waiter in particular had the most envy-inducing Afro, he looked like he came right out of the 70’s – which even though the establishment is based on 1930’s New Orleans, it does have a distinctly retro feel to it.

Anyway, I drank half a bottle of red, and two particularly vicious Kiki de Montparnasse cocktails, which however delicious and joy-inducing it was at the time has sucked that exact amount of joy (and sleep) from my day today. My third day at work. When I should be impressing my bosses with my wordsmith-y wit.

In contrast, my sister, four years younger than me and probably a lot more fun, does not drink at all. In a society that uses and abuses alcohol extensively, a non-drinker stands out in a sea of inebriated idiots: “But why don’t you drink?” “Come on – just one shot!” “You’ll like it once you start.” “You’re making me feel bad! Just one drink!” “Please? It’s my birthday…” Yadda yadda yadda, the answer is still no. But it’s very telling that as soon as you reject a drink when offered, it becomes a moment of intense interest, and the focus of the crowd zooms in on you like an exotic animal at the zoo. However, I’m not so sure the non-drinkers should be considered as the zoo animals…

As someone who very much enjoys drinking (and swearing off it the next morning only to end up that very same evening back in a cocktail bar gossiping with my friends) I couldn’t understand why people would want to go teetotal unless they were either sick or a recovering alcoholic. Hangovers, you say? That’s all part of it! We’re meant to feel like shit the next day! It’s the way of the world! (Slightly problematic when you actually start thinking about it, but I’ll ignore that for now…)

I’m sure my sister would say she started the trend – and she’s so fabulous as well that I do genuinely believe her – but Gen Z have the largest demographic of non-drinkers in the world.

But why?

Millennials like myself and I’m sure many a flapper before me use alcohol to loosen up and gain a little more confidence. There’s a very rare occasion that you’ll see me on a dance floor without being at least slightly inebriated (I’m a terrible dancer – I look like a mum). I’ve never hit on a guy sober – I have to be drinking to do it. Sure, it does seem very mentally unhealthy, but to be honest, it’s the truth, and I don’t have crippling self-esteem issues sober (or so I think…) – I’m just more forward on a night out… but who isn’t?

If there’s anything to know about Gen Z, is that they clearly have more confidence than we do. Maybe the better question is: why do we need to drink to let loose and have fun?

Studies show that not only do Gen Z drink less than their parents when they were teenagers, but Gen Z currently drink less than their parents at their current age.

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Some Zoomers state losing control as a factor for their reluctance to hit the bottle, and others credit social media – sharing videos and photos on Instagram and circulating them via Snapchat are most people’s nightmare, and in worst case scenarios can impact people’s employability and even personal relationships.

But the overwhelming reason why Gen Z no longer “get sloshed” like we do, is because it’s simply not cool anymore. I find this as a direct threat to my personality, as lately I’ve come into my own drunk self, thinking that I’m hot shit, and “cool as fuck,” and can’t quite imagine why anyone would think otherwise. My sister would however, having been embarrassed plenty by an overly affectionate and enthusiastic inebriated older sister. Am I sorry? Absolutely not – but I see her side of the story too.

Frankly, everybody should be able to choose if they want to drink or not without being peer pressured. I know from my sister that every time it comes up she gets jeered and pressured to drink (which is no fun for anyone and frankly asshole behaviour). Newsflash: she’s still not going to drink alcohol, and probably now won’t talk to you either. Do I blame her? Absolutely not. Let people do what is best for them.

As for me, regardless of my crippling hangxiety the morning after, while you read this I will be several glasses of champagne deep at a champagne tasting by Berry Bros & Rudd (collective ooooh’s all around) and feeling doubly hungover tomorrow. But it’s worth all the fun I’ll have this evening – I may even have a dance. And however mentally and physically unhealthy that sounds, is that such a bad thing?