Are We Still Doing Hangovers?

Shani Silver
6 min readApr 4, 2019

Let’s not.

Photo by The Printable Cøncept on Unsplash

I don’t like labels. I don’t like structure or confinement or things I “have to” do in order to conform into expected or required behaviors. “I’m a vegan” makes your skin crawl because it’s annoying but here I am having a panic attack at all the rules they have to abide by in order to qualify. I especially don’t like labels and rules I’ve electively assigned to myself.

I first heard the term “sober curious” while listening to Ruby Warrington speak as a guest on a podcast. At first blush I thought, “Really? Can’t we just call it “drinking less?”

But then I realized sober curiosity as a discussion does need to exist, because as social beings born from the early 80s to present, it never really has before.

There’s been “sober,” as a term given to people who give up alcohol for addiction reasons or perhaps they’re pregnant, but that has always had a (quite unfair in my opinion) negative tint. As if it’s a thing that you “have to” do and is therefore bad. The average social drinker probably assuming sober individuals are “missing out” or that social activities are suddenly so boring for them.

And so we let the discussion of casual, elective sobriety fall away. Sober curiosity is perhaps a softer landing for the “drink less or not at all” set that appears to have fewer of those rules and structures that I’m not fond of. It lacks a “have to” rigidity, and is more instead a conversation starter in our own brains. Honestly I think it’s a brilliant way to expand the discussion around drinking and while 100% sobriety from alcohol doesn’t interest me, expanding discussions does.

Drinking (and I am speaking as an average, drinking human here—this is obviously an irrelevant piece of work for those who are 100% sober for a multitude of reasons) is just part of culture. It’s just something we do. It’s a symbol of hospitality, of industry, of creativity, when you invite someone somewhere, you offer them a drink. For heaven’s sake it’s almost manners!

Alcohol is obviously everywhere. Every time I leave the house there is the opportunity to socially drink. Unsocially drink, too, honestly. And I’m not mad at that. I don’t have any desire to drive drinking underground and hide it as if it’s wrong and bad and shameful, because I…