Monday, August 20, 2012

The Dangers of Crowd-Sourcing Morals

CBS News carries this report about a new study of binge drinking on a Northeastern college campus that includes this depressing reminder of what happens when you let the crowd define right and wrong:

In initial research, Hsu said, the researchers noticed a theme of students complaining about high levels ofbinge drinking.
"One thing that was a recurrent comment were students who said, 'Everyone drinks here. ... I don't want to get drunk, but I feel like I don't belong here if I don't.' ... Then the next person would write, 'I don't really want to drink, but this is what everyone else does.' And the next person would write, 'You know, I don't mind drinking a little, but I don't want to get smashed, but everyone does that,'" Hsu said.
"I look at this and I think, 'Why don't you guys just have a party without drinking? None of you want to be doing this!'" Hsu added.
While the study found that binge drinkers were happier than non-binge drinkers (what I would simplify to the term "responsible adults"), it also points out:
High-status binge drinkers were happier with their social lives than high-status students who didn't binge drink. And low-status students who binge drank had higher social satisfaction than their non-binging peers.
"They almost seemed to move themselves up a little bit, or to put it in more efficient language, they now have higher levels of social satisfaction," Hsu said.
Hsu was quick to note that binge drinking is not the smartest way to improve your chances ofcollege happiness. Binge drinking was also associated with higher rates of sexual victimization and academic troubles, among other nasty consequences, she said.  
Perhaps this happiness is a short-term thing, until you have to pay the consequences.


  1. So, this generation of college students is even more susceptible to the forces of peer pressure than the mighty baby-boomers. I guess the baby-boomer mothers didn't tell their children, "if everyone jumps off a cliff, will you follow?"