Every affluent caucasian fraternity brother will tell you “Rich White Frat boys have more fun.” And for once, the words coming from their garish mouth holes might actually be truth. It is not just their wealth and assumed social dominion that earns them this declaration. Rather, their prolific abilities to binge-drink serve as a proxy for high status.1 A new study presented to the American Sociological Association by Carolyn Hsu, a sociologist at Colgate University says that collegiate binge-drinkers are happier with their lives than those who do not get plastered regularly.
This relation creates a curious circumstance: rich white frat boys seem happy and they drink a lot; therefore (based on this study’s data), people of lower socio-economic status can raise their happiness by participating in binge-drinking. This all really boils down to the perception of something as cool. If binge-drinking is cool, then one must binge-drink to be cool and therefore to be happy.
This study just represents one Northeastern liberal arts school and has not been subjected to extensive peer review, but it can serve one generally massive point. College students are exceptionally adolescent in their unrelenting desire to trade and acquire social capital in order to be cool.
It doesn’t seem surprising that college life is saturated with regular participants in Thirsty Thursday, but the claim that it leads to happiness is a bit bold. Social satisfaction is perhaps the more appropriate term, and one I expect can quickly turn to social dissatisfaction. The combinative make-up of a collegiate student body completely cycles every four to five years. Binge-drinking is common across the country, and doesn’t change when a group of students leave. It is somehow bound to the college experience in a way that suggests keg-stands are essential to the college identity. Therefore to live a satisfying social life in college, binge-drinking is required, right?
The most exciting and terrifying component to this as that this satisfaction we so desperately seek is completely out of our control and formed by standards none of us have personally developed, tested, or questioned. College students take the “I am, therefore I drink,” approach to the matter ensuring they spend some part of their formative (and most expensive) learning years hanging, half-naked, out of a window with cartoon images of male genitalia tattooed in magic marker across their chest.
What could make you happier?
There’s nothing wrong with binge-drinking. Students spend a remarkable amount of time acting like high-functioning adults which can be terribly stressful, when they have little idea of what they even want for their seemingly definite adult life. It’s no wonder they spend their weekends (and pre-weekends) trying to obliterate all consciousness from their bodies.
The study really points to nothing we didn’t know already, but could help bring attention to one thing: the happiness you reap from your drunken escapades is not your own. For those who do not care, stay thirsty my friends.