Alcohol and internet connections don’t mix

By admin
Category: Social | Date: Sat 18 Oct, 2008

I came across this article in the Times a couple of weeks ago: Google takes sober look at drunken e-mails, and it reminded me of my misspent undergraduate days…

One of the dangers of abundant alcohol in halls, and super-fast internet connections in halls, is the tendency for students to combine the two. Sending a rambling, typo-filled, slightly-too-honest email to all your coursemates might amuse everyone the first time – but do it too often, and you’ll soon be getting a “reputation” you probably don’t want…

Avoid switching on your computer whilst drunk

Being drunk and in charge of a computer is never a great idea. Looking at a bright flickering screen may make you feel sick, and if you’re a touch-typist like me, you’ll find that even a couple of drinks is enough to knock your typing. Down a bottle of wine or two, and you’ll probably end up mashing the keys at random.

Ban yourself from emailing

Although drunken texting and drunken phone calls – usually to ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends – are well-known causes of that “what was I thinking?!” moment the next morning, drunken emails are even worse:

  • It’s very easy to email everyone in your address book (probably fiddlier to text them all, and phoning everyone would take a while). So they’ll all get those details of the great night you’ve had and the guy/girl/goat you pulled…
  • Emails can be forwarded. I’m sure you’ve read the occasional news story about embarrassing emails that spread like Freshers’ flu … there’s some examples here (though I doubt many of these perpetrators had the excuse of being drunk, they were just jerks).

Ditto for blog posts, Twitter, Facebook profiles, etc

If you have a blog, Twitter/Facebook account or other online presence, resist the urge to update it whilst drunk. Your friends probably don’t really care that “Ali has bubbly wine (and lots of it), w00000t!”, however thrilling it may seem to you.

And don’t forget that your online presence may be accessible to more people than you think. I only realised that my parents had found my personal blog after a (very) drunken update in first year about a guy I’d snogged at a party and had forgotten the name of. Cringe.

But how …?

The problem with alcohol is that it tends to lower inhibitions somewhat. Things which seem like a bad idea when sober (“sending maudlin emails after sitting at home alone working your way to the bottom of a bottle of whiskey”) can seem positively inspired when drunk.

That’s why the cunning idea reported in The Times’s article seems like a step in the right direction:

Mail Goggles intercepts e-mails sent using Google’s e-mail service, Gmail, after a certain time in the evening. “It’s that time of day,” the program says. “Are you sure you want to send this?” It then tries to ascertain whether the writer is drunk by asking five mathematical questions that have to be answered in a limited time.
Google takes sober look at drunken emails

The flaws I immediately see, though, are that:

  • Some of us are not exactly maths whizzes even when sober, especially if we’re staying up late to meet an essay deadline.
  • Others may be perfectly capable of solving mathematical conundrums even when under the influence.

So what’s the solution? Short of fitting your computer with a breathalyser, all I can recommend is having friends who gently but firmly steer you away from the computer and towards a nice tall glass of water… You might also want to check out Alpha Student’s guide to avoiding a hangover.

Have you had any disasterous, embarrassing or even unexpectedly wonderful consequences from drunken emailing/blogging/Facebooking? Why not share them with us?

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