Yesterday was Day 64 of my Year Of Living Sober. It was a Friday. Like any Friday I did some writing (mostly on my two blogs, a little on my next novel), got in a little exercise (a walk in the drizzle with my pregnant wife) and then finished the day—and week—off by doing what I often do on a Friday: I got pissed while watching television.
Wait a minute—no I didn’t.
In fact last night I didn’t have a drop of alcohol. What’s wrong with me? Why am I not with the program anymore? Oh, that’s right, I’m not drinking any booze for a whole year. I’m on a YOLS. And I’ve still got about ten months to go.
For me, this reprogramming hasn’t really been too difficult at all; once I decided to quit for a year, I did. As soon as I say that though, I realize maybe it has been more difficult than I think.
Maybe I would have experimented with sobriety a long time ago if it hadn’t been for a powerful force, a force working on both my conscious and subconscious self, a force of such great influence and everyday presence I couldn’t see it for the manipulative, malevolent energy it really is.
I am of course talking about…Facebook.
No, not really. I’m talking about advertising (though FB is now doing more of that than ever!) and advertising is abso-f*cking-lutely EVERYWHERE.
Television? TICK. Cinema? TICK. Mobile Advertising Platform (you might know it as a ‘Smart Phone’)? TICK.
Advertising isn’t just in between the television shows, film and ‘news’ presentations available to us all day and all night—and whether we are at home, on a plane or taking a leak at the local pub (I’m not sure if they have little video screens pumping mini-commercials in the ladies water closet but they are popping up everywhere in the gents)—it is right there in the ‘proper’ entertainment too.
I’m not sure what film, television show or ad (or combination) first led me to believe putting Stolichnaya vodka in the freezer was a ‘cool’ thing to do but I do remember beginning to think that way somewhere around my early twenties.
Someone, somewhere GOT TO ME.
I used to love pulling the bottle of syrupy Russian spirit out of the freezer and explaining to my not-so-with-it friends how this was ‘how you did it’.
Now whilst my memory of what media spokesman (or woman) first told me that was how you did it is unclear, the message most advertising for alcohol delivers is very clear:
Drinking is sexy.
What’s more, according to a medical study published January 11, 2012, in Science Translational Medicine, it makes you feel good.
“Drinking alcohol leads to the release of endorphins in areas of the brain that produce feelings of pleasure and reward.”
(N.B. Big thanks to Bron at Everyone is a Moon for emailing me the link to this booze study!)
So, I hadn’t been making it up all my life? Alcohol makes me feel good. And, since all the sexy, successful, slim and rich folk in the movies and on the idiocy box drink, it’s totally natural that I would aspire to drink the best, to drink regularly and to drink a lot.
But maybe it’s also totally natural for me to want to take five (or longer) from boozin up all the time. Even if my body is programmed to drink alcohol (externally by advertising stimuli; internally by a chemical reaction) maybe it is also programmed by something even more powerful than pavlovian instinct?
Maybe my body is also programmed to respond to the urgings of my soul, that part of me that gives me my humanity, that part of me that makes me more than a robot.
“Cheers!” to that part.
Little Booze Joke 64:
An advertising executive walks into a bar and the barman says, “What are you having?” and the advertising executive says, “Coke,” and the barman says, “In a glass or a bottle?” and the advertising executive says, “On a mirror.”
*read in manic voice* Oh, man that’s funny. That is SO funny. I am THE MAN! This is the campaign right here. I’ve written the copy without even trying…