I have a drinking problem

Since I lead a life with attending a lot of events and conferences, there’s something that has been on my mind for some time. But when you just think and don’t blog about it, you can be sure someone else will cover the topic before you, and in this case Ryan Funduk did so in Our Culture of Exclusion.

Me and drinking

Looking at myself, I very rarely drink alcohol; for a myriad of reasons, really. When I was younger, with parties there were a good amount of binge drinking, and the result is of course being hungover, worn down and, at times, feeling pretty sick. Back in the teenager years, the goal was very often to get very drunk.

I’ve also never really been super-keen on the taste of most alcohol. Sure, I can appreciate a good wine or beer, but overall I prefer plain water. Additionally, I’ve been physically active most part of my life, and drinking and working out isn’t really a good match. To add to that, I have an ongoing interest in diet and health, what we eat and drink and how it affects how we feel.

So, I rarely drink.

But that’s how I choose to live my life, not that I think everyone else with a different opinion is wrong or should change.

A drinking problem

I think I got into this state of mind when I was in my early 20s. All good and well, and I felt good about myself. So, my problem is/has not been with drinking, but rather that I don’t (or very seldom drink) and over the years has rather been shown when attending events and parties.

Numerous times people have wanted me to drink, I’m “not a real man” if I don’t, or people have been under the impression that I’m not having a good time and rather wouldn’t be at the current event.

It couldn’t be further from the truth. I love meeting people, socializing, talking and hanging out!

Honoring differences

I think it is vital for us to honor varying opinions, show mutual respect and also understanding for cultural differences. Just as much as I don’t want to excuse myself for not drinking with “No, I’m driving”, “I’m too tired” etc, I don’t want people that like to have a drink or two feel that they have to defend themselves either.

My humble hope is just that we will respect people’s choices and opinions, and hopefully have interesting and constructive conversations about not drinking vs. drinking with moderation vs. binge drinking. We can always learn from each other, and we definitely owe each other to consider that not everyone will have the exact same opinion (and what a boring world it would be, if it was like that).

Avoiding exclusion

A world I don’t want to see is where people feel excluded, that they stop going to parties, conferences and events, just because they feel they don’t fit in or are even welcome. As a host, organizer or attendee, please just respect the differences and give and honor options. Have beer and wine, but also non-alcoholic alternatives like coffe, soft drinks, water etc.

Let’s focus on being inclusive and getting to know and understand more people and views, and just how beautiful people really are!

Disclaimer: Personally, I very rarely encounter being excluded or disprespected nowadays for my choice, but I just want to make people aware that some people might, even if not intentional, feel like that.

Posted in Personal/life |

25 Comments

  • Lusse says:

    säg bara att du är gravid så slipper du all tjat. Jag brukar säga det eller att det är mot min religion. När de frågar vilken så säger jag “den man inte får dricka för” :)

  • Cecilia von Schedvin says:

    I think that it is good that you raise this topic. I know many people who doesn’t want to drink like a teen ager at every conference. Good to be smart about it! Like;)

  • Matic says:

    I’m 25 years old and the total amount of alcohol beverages I drank in my entire life is less than 1 liter. The last time I drank alcohol was … I can’t remember, about 10 years ago. There have always been people who thought I was strange and weird. Like you, the only thing I do drink is water. After all this time, drinking anything else doesn’t feel good. Milk is yuck. When people ask me why I don’t drink alcohol, I tell them: “Because I’ve decided not to drink a long time ago.” If they want to know why, I tell them: “Because it’s poison.” I’m sure many people will disagree and start claiming many beneficial effects of alcohol. The truth is, if alcohol or cigarettes were invented today, they’d be banned. Marihuana is much less toxic than cigarettes or alcohol and is banned. That doesn’t mean you’re fine smoking marihuana, it just does less harm.

    After a while, you get to feel superior when you look at drunk people, puking all over the place and making fools of themselves. Don’t try to run away from the feeling just because it’s socially unacceptable to feel superior. Feel it, you deserve it.

  • defaude says:

    YES! I never drank alcohol until I was 26 or so. The whole “you’re not a real man if you don’t drink” thing came up every single time I attended a party. But since I don’t give a rat’s ass what anyone thinks about me, I embraced it: Whenever someone I just met at a random event tries to urge me into drinking and doesn’t respect my conviction, that someone will most likely not get into my book of cool people :) (i.e. I wouldn’t continue

    It’s a great way to filter out the really cool and interesting people out of the mass of random ignorant dudes :D

  • pd says:

    I feel your concerns. However this doesn’t mean you have a drinking problem, it means other people do. So many in this world cant enjoy themselves without getting drunk, it’s amazing 90% of the population isn’t at AA. It’s the same with cancerette addicts. I think the basic problem is as simple as feeling the need to do something with our hands when in social situations. I suggest just get a glass of juice, water of soft drink and problem solved.

  • Emanuel Hoogeveen says:

    I don’t mind drinking – as a fairly shy person, having a few drinks can help me to loosen up. Problem is, I think most alcoholic beverages are disgusting – wine is the worst, I can’t finish a glass of beer and everything I’ve tried makes me nauseous the more I drink of it. Despite this, I’m not that much of a lightweight – assuming I can keep the stuff down, I can take at least 15 shots over the course of an evening without completely losing the ability to keep my balance (I haven’t put it to the test beyond that).

    So I definitely think drinking should be optional, and you don’t have to be straight edge or feel like less of a man (or woman?) when you turn down a drink. But if you feel like you need a few drinks to loosen up and socialize, that’s fine too – no one is perfect and being shy isn’t a crime, but that doesn’t mean it feels good either.

    In short, alcohol use should be a means, not an end.

  • Mike Conley says:

    Hey Robert,

    I’m with you all the way – I also very rarely drink alcohol, unless it’s been offered to me in a way that would make it rude to refuse (and even then, I find a discreet way to dispose of it).

    I think what’s in your cup, and what you consume is 100% your own business.

    Thanks for posting,

    -Mike

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Thanks for your comments!

    Lusse,

    :-) Absolut, men tråkigt att folk ska behöva känna att de måste rättfärdiga sina val.

    Cecilia,

    Right, let people be they want to be!

    Matic,

    Yes, I wish people can feel that it’s up to themselves to choose what they want and don’t want to do with their lives.

    defaude,

    Definitely! Just feel strong in your own decision!

    pd,

    For some people, sure, it’s about having something to do. But I just wish people don’t feel they just have to drink alcohol then, but rather choose whatever they like.

    Emanuel,

    I think it’s fine too, as long as you choose to do that to loosen up. Just as long as you don’t feel forced to, just to be socially accepted.

    Mike,

    Completely agree!

  • Trygve Lie says:

    A good and healthy stand on the drinking issue when you attend conferences and meet-ups. Those should be followed by most people.

    But; you are also a organizer Robert and I’m curious on your take on providing free alcohol when organizing. Geek Meets does have free beer and wine (and softdrinks and food). Is that a major factor in Geek Meets success and with the root in the last days discussions is it something you consider changing?

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Trygve,

    Thanks!

    Regarding Geek Meet: it’s a great question, and something I’ve been contemplating over the day. I don’t think it’s a major factor, honestly, but I can’t deny it’s a factor in the formula.

    I believe the upside there is that we usually don’t offer that much to drink, perhaps a couple of beers per person (this number is of course completely relative depending on how many are drinking etc).

    If I’m to change that? I’m not sure. It would be an interesting experiment, for sure, but at the same it’s not up to me to tell people how they should live their lives. I don’t drink at Geek Meets, which I know people notice, and I hope I can be a role model for some people there when it comes to not having to drink.

    Personally, I think a couple of drinks with moderation for an event is ok, for those who want that. With Geek Meet, my aim is to make it as inclusive for anyone as possible, hence the reason it’s free to attend and that I do all I can to make sure people can attend and feel welcome.

  • Jag tycker jättemycket om att dricka öl och vin, något säkert många som känner mig kan verifiera.

    Jag är dock varmt emot det gladpubertala ‘Öööh’-motiveringen till att dricka. Egentligen talar vi om huruvida man som individ skall anses ha rätt i en grupp att bestämma vad man stoppar i sig. Min inställning till detta är att det bestämmer man själv.

    På olika möten och konferenser som jag ordnar så har jag haft nog så trevligt och pratat nog så länge (kanske inte till min fördel) med människor som bara druckit vatten under kvällen. Det är faktiskt vanligare än vad man tror.

    Jag sorterar det själv under vegetarian stämpeln, något jag är imponerad av, stöder, men inte gör själv.

    Stora pussar från Hässelby!

    mvh,
    PS

  • Jonas N says:

    Ja, tyvärr lever nog det här gamla fenomenet kvar fortfarande. :( Jag respekterar i alla fall de som inte dricker, och har umgåtts i sammanhang där vissa dricker öl och andra Pepsi. Funkar utmärkt! Jag väljer bort personer som inte kan hantera sådant här på ett moget vis. De må kalla drickande för mer “vuxet”, men är det något som är vuxet här, så är det att respektera andra för deras personligheter, viljor, smak, religioner, eller vad det nu må vara. Inget annat.

  • [...] Since I'm only making my rough observations and opinions, I don't have any specific suggestions for how we should handle alcohol at tech community events. Ryan makes some good ones in his post, there's a decent little discussion going on in Mozilla's engagement-developers list, and Rob gives some good general advice. [...]

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Peter,

    Absolut, det är inte svårare än så! :-)

    Jonas N,

    Definitivt. Acceptera att folk är olika och var glad för det, istället för en konstlad påtvingad likformighet.

  • Adam Nybäck says:

    Thanks for posting about this. I haven’t recognized the exclusion problem since the events I go to include both drinkers and non-drinkers that seem to get along very well. I’m too familiar with the hangover problem though.

    I love free beer at tech events but I wish there were more events with less beer (or beer with less alcohol). I wouldn’t’ mind paying for my beer and let the sponsor money go to something that would benefit all participants rather than just the beer drinkers.

    For conferences I wish there were more alternatives to partying/socializing (with or without beer) in the evening, for instance workshops or programming competitions.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Adam,

    Thanks!
    And I agree, it’s just about having more options and trying different things, and see how you can get people to hang out and do things together.

  • Bob says:

    I agree 100% with you. The bad thing is that I have felt excluded. I once had a job where it seemed the whole office was just binge drinkers. Sometimes they would even drink in the office (only on Fridays after all work was done). I made a commitment that I would never drink and I was never forced to drink, but I did feel like I was “that guy”. Even if they didn’t mean to do it, they subconsciously make nondrinkers feel excluded.

    If more of us become aware of it and accept non-drinking as a lifestyle choice, we can make events and gatherings more enjoyable for all of us.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Bob,

    Thanks for sharing, and sorry that you have felt excluded. And yes, it’s about accepting people and their different choices, and I think we will all be better off with it.

  • Bjarne says:

    Totally agree that it should be up to everyone to choose what to drink. On the topic of Geekmeets, I’ve never contemplated the ratio of alcohol versus soft drinks. I usually have 1-2 beers, but always end with softdrink or water so not to spoil the next day.

    I’m at the Geekmeet for the speaker, the topic and the ppl attending. The food and drinks (either sort) are more of a pleasant framing of the event.

    I really hope that, since we geeks need our brains for our craft, we’re more careful about what, and how much, we drink. We should feel relaxed among peer geeks and not feel nervous as would it have been a prom night.

    Free (choice of) drinks for all!

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Bjarne,

    Glad you feel the same way!
    And yes, with Geek Meet I try to get everyone to feel included, and not feeling that they have to drink nor that it would be the reason to come there. It’s just another option for people attending.

  • Vlad says:

    I’m amazed you even mention it, as most people I know drink a little only on special occasions. The “man” issue is bizzare. Who are these people? Are they 18?

    If you do not drink at a party, I say you show self-discipline, independence, maturity, awareness, and comfort in your own self. Getting hammered, especially at a conference? I think that’s careless and unprofessional.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Vlad,

    Thanks for the support!

  • [...] like a chemistry lab in there, with bubble, vessels, tubes and lots of things going on. So, while I seldom drink, it was pretty interesting from a scientific [...]

  • I quit drinking six years ago. I drink Diet Coke at parties. However I worked in offices where alcohol was served at meetings. Non-drinkers were reviled :(

    Best wishes, Mitchell

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Mitchell,

    Thanks for sharing. And yes, that’s the thing that saddens me, that people have to feel left out if they choose not to drink.

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