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A theory on why drunk people smash things

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Collegian file photo

Collegian file photo

For use later, I would like to point out the findings of an experiment conducted at the Ohio State University, which was reported by the Daily Mail. In it, subjects were given either a potent or very weak cocktail, which for some led to intoxication and others to act as such since they were all told they’d been given a strong cocktail. The administrators then had the subjects engage in what they called a contest with another patient to see who could withstand a longer electrical shock.

They found those who, prior to the experiment, answered they agreed with statements similar  to “I only act to satisfy immediate concerns, figuring the future will take care of itself,” were disproportionately more likely to want to administer prolonged shocks on their opponent. This will be important later.

I am a resident of a certain residential complex off campus. I think without saying more, there have been at times hundreds of people in my backyard smashing things, so one can easily gather exactly which complex I am talking about.

So when I began living in the apartment-complex-that-will-not-be-named, I was curious how exactly the events known ubiquitously as “day drinks” actually begin.

As it turns out the answer is about as bizarre and unapologetically silly as I could have imagined, perhaps more.

It was a Saturday. I was on my patio relaxing in one of my pal’s plastic Adirondack chairs. As I sat, it got pretty warm so I decided to get a bit of glow and took off my shirt. This was about 2:30 p.m.

I either dozed off or entered a supreme meditative state, likely the former, but before I was coherently aware, there were people starting to congregate. It was now about 3:30 p.m.

Evidently, some emotionally ambivalent text messages asking for people’s Saturday plans had struck the iron while it was hot, and no more than 20 minutes later I was watching a large mass of people standing before me engaging in some frivolity replete with illicitness. A lot of ales, few meaningful interactions and a lot of smashing.

That is the true essence of what I am writing about here. It is one thing to watch a ton of peers “party” and then tell people about it. It’s quite another to sit on your patio with a good friend, listen to some UB40 and gain insight into the problems that plague mankind.

Anyway, my roommate and I watched as three men, whose identities are a mystery to me, began to look a bit antsy. They were all drinking beers, seemingly having a good time, and then they sort of nervously walked over to a wooden chair that had been for some reason left in the middle of the festivities.

One of the men without warning picked the chair up and repeatedly smashed it to pieces, his accomplice stomping on those pieces so as to fragment the seat until it was no more than small pieces of wood.

I should note that when the smashing was over they attempted to stir the crowd into a frenzy with a rousing “F— that chair” chant, to no avail.

Regardless, I argue these men, as well as all the people I saw hurling full cans of beer into the air, raining unexpected pain down upon others, certainly adhere to the mantra, “I only act to satisfy immediate concerns, figuring the future will take care of itself.”

College party culture, at least so far as I have gathered from attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst for 4.5 semesters, is just a bit odd in truth. When confronted with an opportunity to converse so as to connect with their peers, who were literally standing all around them, these two men felt it wiser to destroy a piece of furniture. I can only speculate, but I owe this sort of behavior to wrongly affirmed hyper-masculinity, derivative of young men unsure of themselves and uncertain of their communicative capabilities.

I mean this not to belittle people who are socially anxious or insecure about themselves but to critique a culture that prescribes too many young people struggling to find themselves an attitude that would have them binge drink, vandalize, steal and generally be barbaric for the sake of making friends.

The majority of students that attend UMass will not have been to this type of event, nor even care. What I desire of those who have and do is to just be aware of what alcohol does and perhaps gain a firmer understanding of why it is that we as an age group binge drink so often.

Charlie Giordano is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]

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