Haley Brooks & Ali Kokot
Think Twice

Credit: Hayley Brooks and Ali Kokot / The Daily Pennsylvanian

“Let’s get blacked out!”

…Wait. What?

We hear this statement so often that we have become desensitized to the severity of its suggestion. And that’s dangerous.

If you stop for a moment and decode it, you’ll find that the overzealous party-goer is psyched to recall nothing, act irresponsibly and probably vomit. A lot.

The ubiquity of the word “blackout” mirrors the increasing occurrence of people fading into darkness (and going to Avicii concerts). We can’t seem to shut up about the apparently novel concept of “the blackout,” but the repercussions of the experience are what warrant discussion.

When did this anomaly become not just the norm, but hyped up?

Though black may be the new pink, “blacking out” should never be in style. Somehow, it’s become cool to drink to the point of getting what has become dubbed as “blackout,” or as AlcoholEdu defines it, drinking to the point of total memory loss.

If college is supposed to be the best four years of our lives, then why are we so eager to forget it?

Katy Perry sings that her “Last Friday Night” was a blacked out blur … but she’s pretty sure that it ruled. And though Breathe Carolina won’t “Blackout,” he’s only getting started and is well on his way.

This mentality, induced by pop culture, forces itself upon us as these lyrics pound against our eardrums in venues where the alcohol cascades like Niagara Falls.

On campus, we’ve heard people structure their nights around the eventual dark demise of the blackout sensation. Predicting and even striving to blackout, planning when and where they will blackout and bragging about the quantity of blackouts they’ve experienced are pretty run-of-the-mill topics when it comes to after-hours chatter.

But for such an ostensibly accidental phenomenon, it seems awfully calculated.

People don’t fully realize what they’re doing to their bodies and their brains when they blackout.

MSN Health & Fitness contributor Rich Maloof explains it well. In a recent article, he compared the hippocampus (the portion of the brain that records memory) to a TiVo box. When you blackout, your night plays out live but never gets recorded onto your TiVo. You literally never recorded the memory, hit the red button. And despite the antics your friends recount to you the next day, there’s no playback available.

And if you press pause to really absorb that idea — that you’re not making memories — it’s a frightening scene.

So why do we all want to induce darkness upon our hippocampi in the first place?

We’re not going to ruminate over all of the reasons why people drink excessively, let alone drink at all. But here are some things to consider.

Drinking to the point of a sloppy stupor is never classy. When you blackout, you shrug off any responsibility for your actions. Though it may seem euphoric to escape the burdens of the day-to-day, it’s less of a getaway and more of an unwelcome fruitcake for your friends.

So next time you decide to drink to memory-obliterating proportions, think about what you’re asking of your peers.

When people blackout, their body is present but their mind is absent. They have momentarily abandoned their bodies, pausing their brains as their limbs carry on without them.

You literally miss part of your life.

You might have had an incredible experience and have no memory of it. You might also have been arrested and have no memory of it …

When we’re not present we’re not growing or progressing. We’re in a dangerous state, a no-man’s land.

To be clear, we are absolutely not disparaging drinking. If you’re of age and smart about it, we encourage you to drink a highball and be jolly.

But Katy Perry, you probably shouldn’t be bragging about your totally awesome blackout last Friday night. Next time, down some water, eat some bread and maybe you’ll actually make real memories worth singing about.

Hayley Brooks and Ali Kokot are College sophomores from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. and New York, N.Y. respectively. Their email addresses are hayleybethbrooks@gmail.com and alikokot@gmail.com. Think Twice appears every Tuesday.

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