Thursday, June 9, 2011

Why is it so hard to stop drinking? Signaling Group ID

There are a lot of reasons.  I've discussed a fair amount.  A good third of the reason to drink involves genetic predisposition.  Another third, I'd say, has to do with chemical dependence.  A last third, though, has to do with signaling group identity, and, importantly, allegiance.  Whether I like it or not, all of my consumption patterns are predicated on how I view myself, and who I align myself with--and many of those overt observable decisions have to do with my own wishes to show potential acquaintances and friend that I share or do not share their viewpoints and that I can therefore be trusted to cooperate or support, generally, were we to engage in a reciprocating relationship. A lot of our behavior can be seen from this model. 

Anyway, I am out of time, but, for the moment, consider those things you take as endogenous to your identity or personality.  Who you are.  Now, I'm not saying that alcohol represents one of these traits--we rarely think of ourselves in strictly, discretely alcohol-related categories.  Instead, certain drinking behaviors correlate to other traits that can be viewed positively, and idiosyncratically, when, in reality, they are very basic urges to show group identity while maintaining distinctiveness.  I'll try to figure out all of these associations and map them. But not right now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. The group allegiance thing is a big factor in drinking.

Since quitting I've heard all of things (and have said similar myself in the past)

I think a big thing is realising them for the bullshit they are.

'I don't trust people who don't drink'

-The only way to build rapport is by behaving like a pair of obnoxious three year olds toghether.

'I'm Irish of course I drink.

-Because I need eat potatoes every day, drink half a dozen cups of tea every lunch break and dance around in a big leprechaun hat too, otherwise I might somehow be stripped of my Irishness.

'Man up and have a beer'

- So we can behave like arseholes...

I live abroad and nowadays people say 'You don't drink, and your Irish?' and I shrug my shoulders if the topic comes up. Everyone forgets about it 30 seconds later, and I don't need to imbibe expensive poison to 'fit in/enjoy mysel'