Social Sobriety

2014-08-07 18:45

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It’s no secret that South Africans are notorious binge drinkers. Malibongwe Tyilo decided to buck the trend and try his hand at sobriety

For many of us who choose to drink, alcohol plays a key role as a “signifier of fun”.

It marks the difference between serious work time and recreational time.

That is not to say that all recreational activities require alcohol, but for a fair amount of them, we’ve found ways to include booze.

Thanks to alcohol advertising, one would think there is always a reason to be drinking.

From beer ads that tempt with “more reward at the end of the day”, to those that would have you believe that it is impossible to enjoy a game with your mates without alcohol.

It’s pretty much the same with wine.

Although some brands still focus on taste and food pairing, it is generally sold as a “good times” beverage. Remember Graça wine’s famous tag line? “The talking, eating, drinking, laughing, singing, sharing wine.” All the best times waiting for you in a bottle.

I imagine it would be tricky to find a tea that exciting – and legal.

I thoroughly enjoy drinking. No really, I think it is even more fun than what is portrayed in the ads.

It also makes some people more bearable – you know the ones I’m talking about.

It has also made some of the worst parties I’ve been to far more fun than they would have been without it.

Unfortunately, sometimes it also makes me a little too fun for some parties, resulting in situations I am less than proud of.

Is having a drink really a signifier of fun? Picture:

Over the years, the hangovers have also become absolutely miserable, where entire days are lost in a haze of mild depression.

It doesn’t help that I am absolutely shit when it comes to moderation.

Sure, I’ve seen my more disciplined friends do an entire night on one glass of wine, but that’s never been me.

Like many people, a night out means a proper binge drinking session.

Due to said lack of moderation, unpleasant hangovers and a penchant for self-flagellation, two years ago I started taking extended breaks from alcohol.

Two to three months at a time, then a month as an occasional drinker, then another break, each time attempting to make the breaks last longer.

The dream is that eventually the breaks will be so long, happy and full of fitness that it’ll be pointless to drink at all.

It’s been an interesting experience.

I love life without hangovers.

Saturday mornings are amazing.

I wake up annoyingly happy.

But it also means nothing interesting happens after midnight for me.

While my friends are getting “turnt”, shedding their sober personas for fun night-time personas, I am discovering the answer to one of the great philosophical questions of our time: “Turn down for what?”, as asked by DJ Snake and Lil Jon.

This is not to say I am totally not fun just because I choose to be sober.

I am sure I am.

It’s just that when people start repeating stories, that they first told two hours ago, I remember them.

As for social situations, I am less dependent on that drink to help me be chattier, or to pretend to listen.

Now I actually listen, so that I can make conversation.

Abstinence has also forced me to be a little more confident in social situations, knowing that alcohol is not going to be an option as a quick fix for occasional social awkwardness.

I am getting far better at controlling my own moods and deciding for myself when to shift from work time to recreational time – learning to get “turnt” on life, as it were.

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