In a way, your computer is the most dangerous thing in your house, because it does everything. You have access to literally every form of social and financial mechanism in your life. Shopping accounts, banking accounts, Facebook friendships with your boss and her husband, butterfinger-deletable archives of every photograph of your children. All of that stuff is vulnerable to your Scotch-soaked brain. If you make bad decisions when you’re drunk, well, the internet is the place where literally every decision is possible.
And every decision you make while drunk is worse, too. That might sound like a truism, but it’s true of alcohol in a way it isn’t for other narcotics. “Substances such as cocaine and LSD work like pharmacological scalpels, altering the functioning of only one or a handful of brain circuits, Stephen Braun writes in Buzz: The Science and Lore of Alcohol and Caffeine. “Alcohol is more like a pharmacological hand grenade. It affects practically everything around it.” Alcohol affects your entire brain. Your entire brain is dumber when you’re drunk.
So what does a drunk do with the world at his fingertips? Terrible things. Things like
Buy All of the Things
Everyone’s a drunk internet shopper. A quick survey around Gawker HQ confirms this. Shoes were the most popular item we heard, with Jezebel’s Katie Baker alerted by email one bleary morning that she’d lost a bid on an expensive pair sequined sneakers, even though she does not wear sneakers. It gets worse, though. “I’m a really terrible drunk shopper. I once bought a plane ticket. I signed up for improv classes. I bought a weird hanging wall decoration,” Gawker’s Leah Beckmann confesses. “It was all the same summer, after a break-up. Lots of weird purchases and lots of drinking.”
And that’s just financial. While you might rack up some worrisome debt while drunk, your bank account will heal, eventually, probably. Your dignity might not. Definitely stay the hell off of Facebook. Even while sober, you’re probably an awkward mess on there. But drunk, inhibitions to the wind? Good god, the possibilities.
“Man, this is sad, but I have a friend who died a couple years back,” Leslie Horn’s story begins, ominously. “And one night I was drunk and [Facebook] messaged one of his good friends — he was cute — that I only vaguely knew. Just like, Hi whatever this is a weird thing to be going through. He never wrote back. It was just random, drunken, late night Facebook condolences, more or less, but I don’t know, sometimes that leads to banging. I’ve done so much dumb shit on Facebook when drunk.”
Or maybe you share something you shouldn’t. “I accidentally got two cops fired,” says our editorial assistant Ashley Feinberg. “It was freshman year of college, and we were in my room drinking, and one of my friends accidentally broke the window. So the RA had to call the campus police because I guess that is window breaking protocol. And things were a little tense so I started asking them about their utility belts, which turned into a bunch of fun pictures of them handcuffing me, playing with the night stick, etc. I then decided would be a good idea to put these very obviously not OK photos on Facebook at 3am.
“It was not. I got a call from the chief of security the next day and had to come in to his office and he’d printed out all the pictures and blown them up and kept asking me if I’d been coerced. They were in both colour and black and white, for some reason. I had to go through and explain what was happening in each one, regardless of me assuring him that I had been handcuffed willingly. Apparently that is still a big no-no for cops and they soon were no longer employed there.”
Those are uniquely Facebook phenomena, catching some hot guy or girl you only tangentially know and firing off a winky face or sharing bad-idea photos. But the internet also raises the stakes for time-honoured bad decisions as well.
The Sex Stuff
You have more ways to just go for broke, like the irrepressible Sam Biddle. “I got naked and Facetimed an ex-girlfriend last year. I think I was pretty hammered.” She was an ex at the time? And did she, um, know that you would be naked? “Yeah, she was an ex. And well, we were sexting. She knew. I’ll just leave it at that.”
And then there are times where simply having access to the wider world of the web will get drunken, idiot you into situations that, while not strictly online, are made possible by it. Like total and irredeemable social immolation:
“I’m pretty good with electronics when I’m drunk,” Deadspin’s Greg Howard says, “But my best friend went to Brazil with me a few years ago. It was our whole soccer team. We got fucked up the last night — we were all browned out essentially — and he said he had to take a shit. He just up and disappeared. We went looking for him the next day, and the whole team found him passed out on the toilet with his laptop out. He’d shat in the toilet, and he had a porn site up with four RedTube videos loaded — for seamless switching I guess — passed out with his dick in his hand. It was pretty sickening, really.”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why drunk internet is bad internet. Be safe out there.