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Exposing Thyself: Not the best idea at our age

June 27, 2011

Hello there, friends. As the title states, this is for my friends who are my age. It’s specifically targetted at those with whom I went to high school, but it makes sense for anyone who’s under 21 years old.

I’m in college, and like me, most of you are as well. Whether it’s community college, a four-year university, or even the fabled halls of Harvard itself, it’s the next step in our educational road to the future. We’re all prepping ourselves to “become adults”, learn about our trades, and go on to live out the rest of our lovely lives.

And I get it. A huge part of the college experience is reaching out, meeting your peers, and forming friendships. OBviously, along with those friendships comes a certain amount of social activity, as well as exploration and discovery of things which heretofore were unknown to you. One of those things is partying, and along with that is drinking– drinking alcohol, specifically.

We all know it happens. We all know that most, if not all, of the incoming freshmen in a college are going to hit a party and try a Corona for the first time, or join their new (possibly older) friends in downing a shot or two of Jose Cuervo, before finding the Long Island Iced Tea and going to dance to the undoubtedly loud hit pop songs that are playing in the background.

This is all very illegal, of course, but it’s one of those things that’s socially acceptable, right? It’s one of those things that happens at collge, and even those who choose not to partake of the alcohol are rarely inclined to do anything so drastic as to inform anyone in a position of authority, let alone the police, that some kind of underage drinking is going on.

So there’s a position of grace, an area between illegality and social acceptance, which allows us to do some exploring, and ultimately (undeniably) have a lot of fun in the process.

However, as any good Christian will tell you, it’s easy to abuse a position of grace, and find yourself falling from it rather rapidly.

I logged on this morning and saw a photo album of some fellow Sycamore High School graduates, seemingly getting together to hang out and have a little fun together over the summer. No problems there, I knew quite a few of the people as I did the Facebook-Creeper thing and clicked through the pictures.

Then I saw it. One of the women I had graduated with was smiling for the camera and standing with a bottle of liquor in her hand. Mind you, we’re mostly 19 years old now, with I believe just a handful of people having turned 20, and a similarly small number of people still 18. The point is, none of us are old enough to be legally drinking, let alone posing for the camera with a bottle in hand.

I was a little disbelieving at first, but I looked a little closer, and sure enough, that bottle was exactly what I thought it was. I clicked on, seeing a lot of pictures with friends hugging friends, some games being played, a lot of good things you expect to see in this sort of photo album.

But I saw it again. And again. And again. Shot glasses, hard liquor, and beer bottles, a case of beer on a counter. The more pictures I saw, the progressively less and less the alcohol was being hidden– or had it been hidden at all in the first place?

All I have to say to this is: how can you all be so stupid?

I don’t mean that in the general sense. Many of the people from my graduating class are extremely intelligent people, who I’m sure will be quite successful in their lives and go on to live wonderful lives.

But this, what I saw this morning when I logged onto Facebook? It’s just plain stupidity.

Think about it. This is the internet. Even more– it’s Facebook! Those pictures, which have just gone up an hour or two ago, are now on the internet, and especially on Facebook’s servers (or in their physical back-up tapes, even worse), forever! What happens if, in a year from now, you’re making an application to a financial board for more aid to stay at school, and they do a review of your character, including what they find on the internet? Oh, look at this, you seem to have been consuming quite a bit of alcohol, and was this your freshman year? That looks very good for your chances.

Even worse, think of what this says to an employer: irresponsible, immature, untrustworthy. Did you just lose that job that would have netted you $40,000 a year straight out of college because of those photos on Facebook?

I don’t know, but I wouldn’t take the chance.

Addendum to this: I am not universally condemning the use of alcohol, nor am I even specifically condemning the underage drinking that goes on at college (though what follows from that is entirely a set of consequences left to your responsibility). What am I condemning here is the stupidity, the utter idiocy, of allowing yourself to be casually recorded doing something that is very obviously illegal for you to do.

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