The Influence of Media on Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol seems to get a free ride – perhaps even a funded one. In a world heavily adorned by advertising and media, alcohol gets away with identities such as “the confidence booster,” “the good time” and “the free spirit.” Commercials sell us on these notions, as do movies, television shows, and other advertisements. On top of it, social media plays a role as one of the best spokespersons for defining alcohol as “the good time”. The way that we ourselves, and those around us, paint our best life experiences is often with drink in hand. We sell beverage-consuming moments as “having a good time,” or “living our best life.” However, beneath the surface, we often carry some sense that this is not quite the truth.

Do we (un)consciously associate “fun” with drinking?

A few years ago, right around the time I was becoming more conscious of my lifestyle habits, I had decided to try out online dating. I set up my profile with the best pictures of myself that I could find (of course) and started swiping. One of my subsequent swipes had me match with a fellow date-seeker who, in his first line to me, made note of a recurring element in all of my photos. In every single photo, he pointed out, I held a drink in my hand. I was shocked and in disbelief, but sure enough, my large grin was pervasively paired with a glass of wine or a cocktail beside me.

Why did every single photo that I had chosen to represent me include an alcoholic beverage? At this time in my life, I had already made significant cutbacks to my alcohol consumption, and yet still, alcohol was there in all four photos.

Advertising and social media are making drinking fashionable.

It seems that media and advertising guide our beliefs about what moments are most worthy of photographing – and one of the most photo-worthy moments, based on mindful observation of my own past habits and of those of others, appears to be when we are consuming alcohol. These beliefs and subsequent actions reinforce the worn-out notions that we have about alcohol, and weigh heavily in our minds and on our bodies.

Media has reached into the hands and hearts of everyone with a personal device. We perpetuate the unconscious ideas about what makes for a “good life” by sharing photos aligning with these unbeneficial (and often harmful) mainstream beliefs. However, it’s not all bad news; it seems we are starting to wake-up from this tendency for blind belief in what we have been sold – consciously and unconsciously.

How to distance yourself from social media and harmful tendencies

1. Become more mindful of what you share.

Beginning to consciously reflect on what we share and why we share it is a key step towards relating more consciously to our experiences. There is no need for judgment, guilt or shame; simply by observing our tendencies, we begin to unravel the assumptions we have made about what makes a moment, or makes us “worthy.” Our choice of shared content shifts, influencing both ourselves and others.

2. Consciously reflect on what the media has to say.

It says a lot. More often than not, media messages conflict with one another, leaving us confused as to what is the best way to truly live a “good life.” By beginning to make note of the underlying messages that live within a traditional ‘first date scene,’ a well-crafted commercial, or any other imagery or video clip that shows up on your device, you can begin to recognize the subtleties of what is being sold – even if unconsciously placed there by the creator. This conscious reflection is where empowerment begins to stabilize its roots.

3. Question your inner status quo.

Questioning does not necessarily equate to interrogation or judgment; it is possible to question your inner status quo, as it relates to beliefs about alcohol, with compassion and curiosity. Consider: what messaging have you assumed as truth? What habits have these assumptions set in place? Is it possible to question your inner beliefs about alcohol without condemning or forcing yourself into so-called “appropriate” behaviour? As we begin to open ourselves to an honest inner dialogue, old belief systems naturally begin to dissolve and new ones take their place, even if feebly at first. Over time, these roots strengthen. Disentangling ourselves from mainstream messaging about alcohol takes time – but at the same time, all that is required is a day-to-day conscious reflection of what beliefs we currently carry within us. If we open ourselves to this dialogue with curiosity and compassion, we might be surprised at what new messaging naturally starts to form. Over time, we start to find that a “good time” does not come from alcohol; it comes from within.

[Editor’s Note: The author of this post is a content contributor to Alavida, and this contributor was paid for their writing. The opinions, views, results and experiences are theirs alone.]

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Gillian Sanger is a yoga and meditation teacher, holistic nutritionist, and creative non-fiction writer. Committed to self-inquiry and to meditation in its many forms, she practices living life in alignment with the natural world, both inside and out. She seeks guidance and direction from her heart and from her highest self, strengthening her knowledge and intuition through her personal spiritual practice and through the written word.