Friday, June 27, 2014

The Stupidity of Alcohol

This topic is a little off the running path but it may shock you to know I have a life outside of running.


Nevertheless, what I am about to talk about is often tied to many sports and running is definitely not immune. The subject is Alcohol.

Runners, by and large, seem to like to drink alcohol a fair amount. Its appeal is lost on me, however.  I don't fully understand why people who work so hard to rely on their bodies to perform optimally like to take in a substance which is simply bad for them. While I am a teetotaler, I have at least given it a shot. Therefore, my opinion can't be dismissed as easily as some who dismiss views on children if you don't have any or views on women if you aren't one. You see, I drank for a few years once I became legal to do so and then basically lost all interest.

Now, I’d like to say I plan to never drink alcohol again. I’d like to say I am doing it for my health alone and am taking a stand against alcohol. But that’s not the case; at least it isn’t the reason I haven’t had a drop in 15 years. No, I stopped ordering beer and its ilk because I simply didn’t like the taste of the stuff. I deserve no parades and no “good for you”s. It’s easy to not do things you don’t enjoy. 

But lots of people do things they don’t necessarily enjoy because of social pressure. Or they make excuses for drinking (e.g., “I’m not a drinker; I only drink when I am in social settings” holds as much water as “I’m not gay; I only sleep with men when I am in San Francisco.”) I used to drink alcohol as I assumed it was an acquired taste. You know, one you have to slide into gradually. I didn’t care that anyone else was drinking and was rather immune to social norms of drinking. But I did assume that perhaps it took refinement; or the right drink; or atmosphere. Then I realized all of that is moronic. Why should I imbibe in something that I don’t enjoy when there are many things to drink that I do enjoy? Like water. Or Diet Mountain Dew? (The line forms to the left to tell me that that drink isn't good for me.)

I did think that perhaps I hadn’t tried enough different alcohols. So I tried more. All kinds. I have had just about everything out there and nothing even remotely is appealing to me. You can fruity it up all you want but if you like those flavors, then just drink something with those flavors that isn't alcohol. 

So, a few months of not having an alcohol turned into a few years which turned into a decade and a half. I realized that in my recently acquired 39th year of life (you didn’t even send a card, you freaking lush), I had consumed alcohol for approximately a period of two years. Then I realized I liked less than just the flavor.
The culture surrounding any particular drink (and each one seems to have its own) didn’t fit me. I didn’t have things in common with those who liked to drink. More correctly, I did not have things in common with those who drank when they were drinking.

The excuses which alcohol provides people for ridiculous behavior, bad communication skills, and a litany of other things I find laughable. If I wouldn’t put up with that behavior from you when you are sober, I’m not going to do it because you voluntarily took a drug that makes you think you can do it now.  Heck, I can barely stand most people who are not impaired. Throw in alcohol and imagine how annoying that must be. 

But I ask friends what they did the previous night and they explain they went somewhere. The place was usually irrelevant as the focus of the evening was what they were drinking. The locale didn’t have to be excited because they were downing a depressant. The conversation was mostly sophomoric and without merit. They didn’t actually do anything at all. They drank. Remove the alcohol and what they actually did was mundane. But they had the time of their lives!

This dislike of the drink and the culture is not discriminatory towards certain drinks. Whether it is barflys in a local pub or insufferable oenophiles swishing a particular pinot around to let it breathe (even though they can’t tell a red wine from a white wine), each have their own peccadilloes which I thoroughly enjoy avoiding.

And so should you.  Think of all the deaths (over 10,000 in 2012 from DUIs alone), suffering, fights, domestic abuse (both genders) and every horrible thing which are a byproduct from alcohol.   

It distorts truth. Ben Franklin never said “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”  In fact, Ben was actually talking about rain. His full quote is “Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.” But that won’t fit on a snappy t-shirt.

This hasn’t even touched on how horrific alcohol is on your body. Liver damage, cancer, toxic all-around. Yeah, let’s throw back a few more of those! 

When I mentioned I was writing this article to a friend, she said that she had never seen anything remotely like it. She assumed that she was one in a million who didn’t like alcohol, didn’t want to drink it, and something was wrong with her. I assured her she was far from alone.

Now, I know this won't sit well with all people and I am not saying you can't have a drink. Or that there are no good side effects which may be beneficial, as some studies seem to say. But it is not like you couldn't get those side effects from something else that isn't alcohol. 

In the end, the point is all about doing what you enjoy best which benefits you the most. Everything we do is a cost-benefit analysis. I have just done the math and realize that subtracting alcohol from my life gives me the correct equation.


Mike Kahn said...

Great read. Thanks.

Unknown said...

Was going to ask your opinion on this very subject and then I found your article above! Good points on your position. :)

Unknown said...

This post is titled "The Stupidity of Alcohol," but what it SAYS is "Alcohol doesn't really taste good to me and I don't understand why people enjoy it."

Just not a lot of tangible points here to justify your title.

I found this blog b/c you were promoting it on #ultrachat. Maybe there is better language to communicate your point?

Dane said...

Ian, if you are going to quote me, please actually quote me. Just use copy and paste.

As for not a lot of tangible points, I am guessing you missed the 10,000 DUI deaths, the studies linking alcohol to cancer, liver damage, toxicity and limited beneficial side effects. Not to mention the myriad of other points which have nothing to do with my opinion.

I promote this everywhere because I believe in facts.

Unknown said...

Dane, I didn't attempt to quote you. Thanks for being condescending, though.

Your facts don't justify the title or the tone of your article.

I could easily write a blog post entitled, "The Stupidity of Drinking Mountain Dew." Its over consumption is epidemic in Appalachia, and is causing a public health crisis from dental decay. These are facts.

But, if I were promoting myself as a motivator (like you are), I would say "Water is better for you than Soda, Lets Kick Bad Habits Together!"

As a communicator, you come off as pompous and self righteous. You're methods aren't going to dissuade anyone from drinking, only to not invite you for a drink.

Killian Jornet famously enjoyed a shot of mescal enroute to his victory at Hardrock this year. If you don't appreciate that there's more substance to this event besides DUI fatalities and liver cirrhosis,you just don't get it, Dane.

As for me, I'm not inspired by your article, won't be subscribing, or recommending it to others.

I respect your opinions and wish you luck with your ventures.

Dane said...

No condescension was in that statement. You said what the article "says" and then used quotation marks-that is quoting. I asked you not to do that. It is very simple to say what the article says. You just gone done reading it.

How do my facts NOT justify the title? (Rhetorical since you obviously don't get that listing one bad fact would show the stupidity of alcohol, let alone ALL the bad facts mentioned which somehow you seem to think are just fine. That is baffling to me, by the way.

Yes,, you could indeed write an article about the Stupidity of Drinking Mountain Dew. Then perhaps you could do research and show how it was bad for a person as well. Like I said, the line to knock Mountain Dew is already existing and I acknowledged it (although I will take tooth decay over all the things linked to alcohol any day.) That said, any badness of Mountain Dew doesn't take one single thing away from all the horrific stats I posted about alcohol.

Well, if you wish to promote yourself as a motivator as such, then go right ahead. To each his own. I am not a sugarcoater and every method of communication has its fans and detractors. I am writing for the masses, not Ian Lewis alone.

Not being invited out for a drink, something I am obviously not wishing to do, would be a win.

I googled mescal because I didn't know what it was (I guess Jornet's famous usage of it is not THAT famous.) But trying to state that one shot of alcohol drunk by an otherwordly talent during a run is somehow proof that alcohol is a-ok is the weakest argument I can think of. Jornet could probably chug straight lighter fluid and win most ultramarathons. The flimsiness of that example is up there with using Scott Jurek as the quintessential vegan god. Thinking Jurek couldn't do what he does, if maybe just slightly as good, based on nothing but a fluffer nutter diet, shows people don't understand that a massive portion of how we perform in any task has little to do with our own desires or abilities. It is genetics. I can train night and day and will never ever make the Olympic Trials for the marathon. Has nothing to do with my diet or my shoe choice or my wants. It has to do with I didn't pick the right parents to achieve that.

"If you don't appreciate that there's more substance to this event besides DUI fatalities and liver cirrhosis,you just don't get it, Dane." You are right. I don't get it. I haven't any clue what this sentence means and I read it many times. If you mean there is more substance to the event of Hardrock, um, ok? I still don't get it. That's fine. No need to explain it to me.

As for your response, when you start off quoting me but not quoting me and then saying there are no tangible points to justify the title when there is a litany of tangible points, you can imagine I am not too concerned with whether you are inspired, subscribing or recommending it to other people. You came out of the gate already showing you had no real desire to have discourse but rather to show you didn't agree with me and that the multitude of facts and links I had were not enough for you. That's fine.

Finally, I do have to admit, however, there are few things funnier to me than telling me I am pompous, self-righteous, condescending, unable to dissuade people from their viewpoints, just don't get it (whatever "it" is) and everything else...BUT you respect my opinions and wish me well.

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

TFMM said...

"Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?" surprisingly first time I heard that, and you owe me a coffee since I spit mine out

Unknown said...

Sober since 10.2.88, but I'm alcoholic so I really had little choice. Either get sober or die. I never was able to identify with people who had fun drinking. I really never did. That's not why I drank. I drink to escape the life my behavior and perspective from being alcoholic gave me of the world. Hostile and cruel. I don't feel that anymore thanks to finding a solution that works. I don't miss alcohol. Neither do I fear it. Everyone can do what they want with it. But if you have a NEED for it and can't quit, there is help. Good luck to all.

TFMM said...

Congrats Scott on 28+ years of sobriety