Dangers of drunk Facebooking: A 9-step survival guide
With the coming of social media, drinking has become a risky sport to play. Anything can happen. Like in a Formula One race. You might make it to the finishing line intact. You might self-combust and burn on the track, with an entire stadium watching.
No need to feel embarrassed or contrite if you do this. For those who are drunkenly fragile on social media, especially on late nights and early mornings, have a new unlikely hero in Donald Trump. He has normalised the impulsive reactive use of social media. If the President of the United States can do this without giving a fig about what people think of him, so can we. It’s an empowering thought. Except that Donald does not drink. That’s even more empowering. At least we have an excuse.
In an earlier time, drinkers were self-contained creatures who, more or less, managed to keep their secrets to themselves. It was drinks, dinner and bed. The options were limited. You could try falling on the furniture. Drunk dialling was an option for some but STD calls were prohibitively expensive. That worked as a curbing mechanism.
When you got the bill at the end of the month, you sobered up: ‘Ok, I spent shitloads on booze but what the hell is this add-on?’ Besides, there was a good chance that you would have forgotten your STD code after a few. You’d be locked out by your phone. Finally, there was this deep-seated inhibition, which alcohol didn’t quite break down: people are sleeping, I shouldn’t wake them up.
One had to work hard to get into trouble. In 2000 I was working for a news website in Delhi. A colleague got drunk at the Press Club, then having flipped, came into office to shout at his editor, who was messing up his stories. So he claimed. It was ugly. I never saw him again. He either resigned or was fired. All this required some work — moving physically from one place to another. On most days he would have gone home and moped and muttered in silence, a safer bet if you want to save your job.
Nowadays, when your phone connects you to hundreds of people, you’re dead before you’re born. You see the green dot signalling someone’s online, you feel the urge rise to communicate.
Let me present to you the dangers of drunk Facebooking in the modern age, in nine simple steps.
Step 1: The first couple of beers. You feel like going outwards, in circles. Your fingers instinctively reach out to type something on someone’s wall, but you check yourself. In an earlier time you might have chatted up the bartender, the waiter or the people at the next table. Back in the day, I’ve lost count of how many tables would end up merging in drunken friendliness. Today, you will be staring at your phone. This is the friendly reaching-out stage when your inhibitions are still intact, though loosening a bit.
Step 2: You’re swimming a little, but you’re still alright. This is the stage you’ll get in touch with old acquaintances or friends you haven’t spoken to in a while. It’s like no water ever flowed under the bridge. You make reunion calls as if nothing has changed. You pick up where you left off years ago.
Step 3: This is when you start scrolling down your feed: FB, Twitter, WhatApp groups. People are having all kinds of inane conversations. Everyone has an opinion. You start adding jokey replies to threads, threads you’d normally read but not participate in because there are unwritten rules about this. Someone’s wall is their space and their people/gang hangs out there.
Step 4: Now you’ve reached the hostile middle stage, when the conversations start sounding absurd and meaningless. This is the nihilist stage. Where the worm turns. Because everything seems ridiculous when you’re drunk, you go and post whatever comes to mind, not all of it friendly. You’re beginning to raise eyebrows. Unbeknownst to you, folks are sending each other screen shots of your uncalled for doodling: ‘Dude, is he ok?’
Step 5: You are drunk and Facebook is your nightclub. You can walk up to anybody, talk to anybody, say anything. You are Shiva, ready to create and destroy at will. You are in the middle of this huge raucous party where the conversation just doesn’t end.
Step 6: This is the stage when you’re convinced people suck and you’re the best. Some folks might already have jibed back at you on FB putting you on guard. Stage 6 is when you start posting You Tube links on your wall. This song. That song. You’re the DJ and the nightclub is heaving to your beats. You love yourself so much you start putting little red hearts on your posts. This is usually the time, around 2 AM, when your old best friend calls from Canada saying: ‘Man, you’re doing that thing again—where you start loving your own posts. You say to him: ‘FO buddy, stop being a preacher.’
Step 7: By now you’ve invented a select list of impromptu 4 AM friends who have no idea that you have anointed them such. It’s a fairly random shuffle of your contacts. Perhaps these are people you deep down subconsciously trust not to judge you. Time for a toilet roll of personal messages. A stream of disconnected thoughts. Plans, dreams, fantasies, vitriol, love, nonsense. You’re Emil Cioran writing aphorisms and sharing them with a select readership.
Step 8: People suck. Facebook sucks. You now move to your boys’ school WhatsApp group. Pull them up for posting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ memes and porn clips in the same breath, as if there was nothing to distinguish the two. No one responds. You exit the group. You switch to the You Tube songs that you were playing a moment ago and hit the comments section. ‘Yo Eminem, you’re brilliant’. Next: ‘Em, you suck, man’. This is a safe space, say what you want.
Step 9: You reach this stage when the booze is out. You might have a moment’s lucidity there and then. Or you might have it the day after: ‘Holy, what was I writing and where?’ Time to start deleting the comments and posts. Time to wipe the bloodstains, remove all traces.
Until, like Donald, it’s time to start all over again.
The writer is the editor of House Spirit: Drinking in India, published by Speaking Tiger