Take the blame

| Staff Columnist

You wake up on the floor of your room after a long night of partying. Your hair is a mess, your pajamas are on backwards (assuming you’ve got them on), and you’re pretty sure that that nasty odor is not only coming from you, but it also smells like vomit. You can barely remember the events of the previous evening, but no big deal, right? Maybe you did something stupid or did a couple of stupid things. Maybe there will be some dumb photos up on Facebook to laugh at later or to quickly untag yourself from. Because, after all, you were drunk. And as the wise Jamie Foxx put it, you can always “blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol”.

Or can you?

In a new study done at the University of Missouri’s College of Arts and Science, scientists discovered that while one is intoxicated, the brain simply does not care about the mistakes one is making; it doesn’t have any influence on the actual making of the mistakes. After testing three groups of subjects who consumed pure tonic, 10-proof-vodka tonics or 100-proof-vodka tonics with a challenging computer task, the team of researchers noted that not only was the group that consumed the most alcohol less likely to notice its errors in the task, but this group was also less likely to slow down after making an error.

More than that, the overall moods of the subjects were monitored. Unsurprisingly, the most intoxicated group reported feeling less negative over the course of the task. Using this, the scientists could also demonstrate a correlation between the overall mood of the participants and the strength of the error-related negativity (ERN). So a less negative mood (i.e. one caused by consuming more than a couple of shots) means fewer acknowledgements of mistakes.

So what does this mean for college culture? The excuse “I was drunk” routinely covers most weekend shenanigans. Whether you made out with that creepy guy who always seems to show up wherever you are, somehow accidentally deactivated your meal plan or nearly broke your leg as you tried to climb the anorexic rabbit, you’ve always had a ready-made explanation for the morning when people regale you with tales of your so-called “adventures” of the previous night. After all, college is all about having fun and learning from all the crazy experiences you have, right?

But while college may be about experimentation, it’s also about growing up. It’s about learning to be accountable for your life: getting to your 8 a.m. class on time, finishing your paper before you watch TV and taking responsibility for the stupid things you did while under the influence. You may have been drunk, but you—not the alcohol—were the one making decisions. Own up to it.

Drinking will always be a part of college culture. While some students will not drink, many will. Though it’s been depicted a certain way in movies like “Animal House” and is often seen as part of the coming-of-age rites of college, drinking can be done responsibly. And if you choose to drink recklessly, don’t think that whatever you do while intoxicated can be blamed on whatever it is that you had to drink. Jamie Foxx isn’t always right, and he certainly isn’t wise to proliferate the idea that being drunk is the solution to and the excuse for all your problems.

Let’s face the facts: Whatwever you do under the influence is your choice, not the alcohol’s. And it might be time to accept that and take responsibility for your actions. After all, it wasn’t the alcohol that woke up in the common room in its underwear, was it?

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