The latest statistics show a new puritanism among young people, and while there’s much to applaud in Generation Sensible, it may not be culturally beneficial. Generalising about culture is mostly a stupid thing do, but here goes: I can’t help noticing that mainstream music now appears devoid of danger or illicit thrills, or much of which parents would disapprove (give or take the odd porny pop video). Perhaps those who create youth culture are just responding to the market. Can you imagine anything like this at the Brits next week?
And think about the last time the reactionary press got frit over a youth movement. Bar the odd brief murmur it’s an age since any – rock’n’roll, punk, acid house, rave culture – have created anything resembling a stir. There may well be pockets of resistance, but given that pretty much everything that’s made any difference in popular and youth culture has come from the Dionysian side of things, it doesn’t bode well.
Teetotalism is doubtless a worthy choice for many. In my case, I realised perhaps too late that drinking can be fine, and it can be fun, and it can be hideous. For me it’s not all been Beer Street, but it’s not all been Gin Lane either. It’s also worth remembering that young teetotallers remain vastly outnumbered by young drinkers, and that sticking to the soft stuff still takes courage. But while the consequences of drinking are well known, perhaps we could also consider whether abstinence is always the healthier option.