Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Party Mentality, even at Whitman

I live in Jewett. My room directly faces the TKE house and all of frat row. Yet the frequent nighttime screaming, laughing and stumbling, which bothered me at first, don’t worry me as they once did. Whitman does a great job of encouraging responsible drinking: there is no fear of asking an authority figure for help if help is needed, people look out for each other and set limits, yada yada yada. It has gotten to the point that I now see the consumption of alcohol that I indulge in as a (mostly) wholesome experience, something that brings friends together to harmlessly release their inhibitions.

That being said, though, even here at Whitman there exists a small sub-culture of heavy drinking that I would label the Party Mentality. This is the idea that altered states of consciousness are the ultimate form of fun and entertainment and that nothing else can compare to them. These are the people who spend most of their time either talking about times they were very drunk, or getting very drunk so they can talk about it later.

Even as I say this, I feel compelled to defend our school. Most of the people I have met here are not that person, not even close. Most of the people I have met here don’t let alcohol become the focal point of their lives. Compared to our peers at larger state schools, this is barely even a problem.

But just because not everyone here embodies every aspect of the Party Mentality does not dismiss its hanging specter from our heads. Though no one would articulate this argument out loud, many parts of our age group seem to believe, implicitly, that being drunk is a lot more fun than being sober. When people, myself included, talk about drunken incidents afterwards, we seem to put more value on them than on less “exciting” tee totaling ones (at least, this is my experience).

The thing is, though, drinking is fun. There’s a reason that people have been doing this for thousands of years. But what makes us think that for some reason it is the best or only kind of entertainment available? The Party Mentality abides, at least in some form, throughout every myth of what the college experience is supposed to be.

To quote the footnote of a David Foster Wallace essay, “You think it’s a coincidence that it’s in college that most Americans do their most serious falling-down drinking and drugging and reckless driving and rampant fucking and mindless general Dionysian-type reveling? It’s not. They’re adolescents, and they’re terrified, and they’re dealing with their terror in a distinctively American way.”

He basically claims that our Party Mentalities stem from a subconscious fear of the horribleness of the real world, that we go absolutely crazy in order to reassure ourselves. This theory is almost too complicated, but I agree with him.

Of course, David Foster Wallace is referring to the more typical, more crazy college life that we have, albeit in a miniature and more responsible form. But we are just as terrified as those adolescents. And so we overemphasize the fun of drinking, implicitly, without thinking that the things we remember most will not be the times spent on a beer-encrusted frat house floor or at a poppin’ house party, but the relationships we make with people, the sober fun we have. I simply have a wish: albeit one that won’t come true: that we would stop caring so much about altering our states of consciousness.

View Comments (1)
More to Discover

Comments (1)

All Whitman Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *