Influencers are taking a sober second look at drinking culture but for whose benefit?
Louise Delage was briefly Instagram famous in 2016 forever ago in internet years, so you may need a quick refresher on who she was.
Delage was a young, beautiful, Parisian Instagram it-girl with more than 100,000 followers at her peak, continually posting photos of herself at rooftop parties or aboard yachts in late summer, hair tousled, and always, always, with a drink in hand.
She was also not real at least, not exactly.
Delage, played by an actor, was a fictionalized social media star created by the French addiction support agency Addict Aide in a campaign to raise awareness of alcohol addiction and how deceptively glamorous it can look, especially when filtered through social media. Delage may have been a fabrication, but the fact that the campaign was so successful (it won 17 Lions at Cannes in 2017) had much to do with just how closely she resembled the real influencers whose cocktail-filled lives many follow and covet.
Most trends turn over quickly, but drinking from mimosas at brunch to post-work beers has always been portrayed as the ultimate way to have a good time . Conversely, not drinking seems somewhat suspect; abstaining is often interpreted as a tacit indication that you struggle with alcoholism, itself historically stigmatized and kept private, or that your’e just a virtue-signaling teetotaler who doesn’t know how to have fun.
Yet recently, a shift has begun. Enter the sober curious: those who drink less or not at all,and broadcast their abstinence with pride as a part of their social media personas.
Ruby Warrington, 43, is a British writer and founder of alcohol-free event series Club Sda NYC. She is also the leading voice of the sober curious movement, whose rationale is that most everyone could benefit from stepping back to honestly appraise their relationship with booze.
Warrington suggests bringing a questioning mindset to every drinking situation, rather than go along with the dominant drinking culture. She wants to nudge people to critically evaluate the subconscious ways in which drinking is socially expected of us, regardless of whether our behavior seems overtly problematic.
There’s this idea that you’re either a problem drinker or an alcoholic, or a normal drinker who has no issues with alcohol. More and more were seeing there are shades of grey when it comes to dependence on alcohol, says Warrington.
The idea that problematic drinking can be assessed on a curve is more than an observation, its medical science. Alcohol use disorder encompasses a spectrum ranging from mild to severe, explains Dr George Koob, director of the US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Abstaining from alcohol is a good way of assessing whether you have a problem with alcohol in the first place, adds Koob. If you feel better when you’re not drinking, the Oracle of Delphi is telling you something.
In her recent book, Sober Curious, Warrington says reduced alcohol intake is the next logical step in the wellness revolution, underscoring the absurdity of a day filled with yoga and greens being followed by a night of pummeling ones liver at the bar. The sober events Club Sda NYC hosts, such as a Kundalini Disco or panel discussion on psychedelics and sobriety, are also firmly aligned with new age and wellness trends.