In Australia take-home sales of alcohol from liquor retailers are up 27% (though places at which alcohol is consumed are closed, so those sales, of course, are down).
Part of Malcolm Gladwell’s book Talking To Strangers deals with the effects of alcohol.
Given what seems to be an increased domestic consumption of alcohol in frequency, I found this part of his observations interesting.
If you’re looking for light at the end of the tunnel, alcohol makes the light less discernible and the tunnel seem longer and darker than it really is.
“Drinking puts you at the mercy of your environment.”
Many of those who study alcohol no longer consider it an agent of disinhibition. The think of it as an agent of myopia.
The myopia theory was first suggested by psychologists Claude Steele and Robert Josephs, and what they meant by myopia is that alcohol’s principal effect is to narrow our emotional and mental fields of vision. It creates, in their words, “a state of shortsightedness in which superficially understood, immediate aspects of experience have a disproportionate influence on behaviour and emotion.” Alcohol makes the thing in the background less significant. I makes short-term considerations loom large, and more cognitively demanding, longer-term considerations fade away.
Here’s an example. Lots of people drink when they are feeling down because they think it will chase their troubles away. That’s inhibition-thinking: alcohol will unlock my good mood. But that’s plainly not what happens. Sometimes alcohol cheers us up. But at other times, when an anxious person drinks they just get more anxious. Myopia theory has an answer to that puzzle: it depends on the anxious drunk person is doing. If he’s at a football game surrounded by rabid fans, the excitement and drama going on around I’m will temporarily crowd out his pressing worldly concerns. The game is front and centre. His worries are not. But if the same man is in a quiet corner of a bar, drinking alone, he will get more depressed. Now there’s nothing to distract him. Drinking puts you at the mercy of your environment. It crowds out everything except the most immediate experiences.
Talking To Strangers, Malcolm Gladwell, Allen Lane, 2019, pgs 207-208.