Should you consider drinking alcohol socially in US or NOT? Work?

In Living in US by KumarUpdated : 4 Comments

I grew up in a very conservative culture in India. Drinking alcohol socially is taboo in the social circle I grew up. After I came to US, I carried same perceptions for first couple years. After I graduated from first Masters and started working,  things changed a little. Let me share with you my thoughts on Socially drinking alcohol in US.

Is Drinking Alcohol Socially needed ? Is it needed at Work ?

It is very tricky to answer…it depends on how you look at it. When I was studying my first Masters I would NOT go out on weekends, I used to stay home, watch movies, cook and do other stuff with friends. I did not even try to drink any alcohol, my perceptions were different…anyways, after I started working, I started to see how the social circle works.  People used to ask me do I drink and I would say No. I was naïve thought drinking beer would make me put on weight, I started to drink one beer once in a while so that I could put on weight.  Nothing changed…I used to go to happy hours with colleagues and saw that it was kind of hard to mingle. For instance, my colleague would ask “what do you want to have, if I say I do not drink”…they will ask why and other stuff. The reality is, there is no exchange of drink buying or anything as such. If you do not drink, people will not readily accept a drink if you buy them. The way it works is, you buy someone a beer or shot and they would buy one drink back to you. It just creates that communication. Many people like to drink socially…I do not like to drink alcohol, but what I usually do is, buy one drink and hold it in hand to keep the conversation alive and make sure everyone feels good. I do the same thing when I go out Salsa Dancing to socialize.

This is a very controversial topic; many would argue you need not drink to socialize. I agree with it…but you know….anyways, the point is, after I started to drink socially, I felt more connection and my network kind of strengthened on a different level because people communicate better and more open. It is not that just drinking alcohol helped, it just helps go with the flow of people. Do not get me wrong, there are many people who do not drink but have good social circle.  To keep things in check, I have kept a stupid rule that I would never consume alcohol at home. My friends and everyone still push me, but I say NO. It can be very addictive, so I avoid it. But, if we all go out, I would have one drink, just to socialize…The overall point is, “It is socially acceptable to drink in US and people like it here to have a drink to socialize and chat”. Many of the internationals like me might have been raised in conservative cultures and would have different perceptions, the goal here is tell you all, it is Ok to cut loose a little if you can and socialize a little.  Honestly, when doing MBA, I made so many friends just because I would be able to have a drink with others. Just my experience J. You have to very careful to have control on what you do.

What are your thoughts on Drinking Alcohol Socially ? Any experiences ?

Disclaimer: I want to make sure I communicate the message right.  I am not encouraging anyone to drink here. It is a personal preference and many people do not have the will power to control it and end up as alcoholics. If you do not have that control, do not even dare to try it. If you think it is ok and have the power to control yourself, you may just have a drink once in a while just to socialize with colleagues or friends.

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Comments ( 4 )

  1. DD

    I drink socially in the US and used to drink socially in India as well. However, the ‘socializing’ has increased drastically in US and so has the drinking part. Socializing is key to having fun and fosters networking, which helps in job-search as well. That said, I am glad I am not addicted 🙂

    I agree with you that it is acceptable here and quite common too. When you want to meet up with friends and colleagues after work, you go ‘for a drink’. It is up to you as to how much you want to drink. I completely agree that people open up more and talk more freely. It is not the effect of alcohol, but the effect that you are in a casual environment and are (stuck up?) with someone who you know until your drinks get over. If you go out and have soda (Coke, Pepsi etc.), you will finish drinking that soon, but you enjoy your alcohol and drink it slowly. Sitting with your friends/colleagues, it is but natural that people talk about their personal life, thoughts, workplace politics, gossip etc. Also, when you go for dinner at a restaurant, it is okay to start with beer/wine to go with your food.

    Even university events sometimes have (free) alcohol! I was part of the Wine-tasting Club of my school. There were other beer-related clubs on campus as well. Tailgating parties before sports matches/games are drinking events and if you go to watch a game with your friends, assume there will be drinking involved. Office parties (with managers) hosted by your company will have alcohol as well – just remember not to get too drunk and act foolish in front of senior-level management.

    It is your personal choice about drinking – if you don’t want to, it is fine; but you may miss out on few things. Why will people invite you to a happy hour when they know you don’t drink? Or, even if you come, you will drink your soda and then keep staring at others until they gulp pints after pints of beer – you cannot drink the same amount of soda/water, but you somehow can drink beer! So, you will end before the alcohol drinkers and get bored. Hosting parties at home with alcohol and snacks is common. You are perceived as a good host, and hence, it is okay to have drinks at home, I feel. You never know when someone might show up at your place and you would want to serve them alcohol (and food). Hence, you need to be stocked.

    Also, when you are asked why you don’t drink, you tell them your social/religious/community issues. Then the topic delves further into the same issues – your culture, society etc. But guess what? That’s a boring topic for many Americans. No one wants to hear how ‘rich’ your culture is, unless they are majoring in Anthropology.

    Most importantly, don’t look down upon people who drink ‘socially’. You might be from a conservative background, but that gives you no right to talk rubbish about others. It is their personal choice and let them live. Giving sermons on how you love your ‘liver’ and don’t want to damage it is plain annoying.

    Disclaimer: (Refer to the ‘Disclaimer’ in the original article)

    1. administrator

      DD, Very insightful thoughts…what you say is true, “why would someone invite if you do not drink…”, you might miss an opportunity to network…

  2. D. Chandramouli

    Hmm. Sure, you’ve opened up a pandora’s box at least as far as Indians are concerned. Some of us consider drinking, smoking etc. as a vice or a sin. Some view such habits as not good for health. I, a senior citizen working outside India and never lived in the U.S., have been a teetotaller all my life. To an extent, I agree that drinking does help in better bonding among groups of people. I might have gathered more friends if I had at least socially started drinking early in my life; but, frankly, I never ever regretted on this score. Frankly, I didn’t feel having lost anything. One point must be kept in mind. How strong are we in our conviction that we would drink only socially, and that we won’t become addicts? If one can draw the line clearly on this, and if in the environment one lives drinking is normal and it helps in building relationships, I believe it’s OK. But, if one can still build relationship by any other better method, nothing like it and one need not resort to drinking even socially. I appreciate your honesty and straightforwardness in putting across your views clearly. Some sort of guidance like what you have given may indeed be necessary for youngsters in the U.S. Best of luck to you.

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