Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My Two Cents

I'm horribly behind.  I know.  The whole Blogger debacle last week and the three day weekend kinda knocked me off schedule.  And today, instead of playing catch up, I'm deviating even more from the "schedule."

I usually don't do this, but I've had some things that have been on my mind for the last week or so.  Writing usually helps and sometimes I just need to rant a little.  So, please, bear with me.

A high school friend of mine posted a link to this article from Time magazine on her Facebook.  It's titled "Heavy Drinkers Outlive Non-drinkers" and her little comment about it was "Interesting..."  I clicked on the link and read the article, because I wanted to see how it the world someone could possibly claim that, let alone "prove" it.  The article, in my opinion, provides no conclusive evidence to it's claim (I'll get to why I think that in a minute.)  I commented on her link that I thought it was bogus and shared an example that I will also share with you all.  My paternal grandfather is a twin.  His twin brother, my Uncle Donnie, was a heavy, heavy drinker for the majority of his life. The last time I saw him was when I was 17.  We had all gone up to Syracuse for my grandparents' 50 wedding anniversary and my dad and my uncle had thrown my grandparents a big party-it was more like a fancy family reunion.  We went to see him a couple of days before the party and he had no clue who my dad was, even after my dad said he was Doug's son (Doug is my grandpa.)  He had no recollection of my father or even of his own twin (when my dad had mentioned Doug, my Uncle Donnie was like, Doug who?)  I took a picture of them together at the party and my Uncle Donnie looks at least 10 years older than my grandpa.  Sadly, he died a few years later, from pickling of the brain, among other things.  My grandpa, on the other hand, just celebrated his 84th birthday last month.

And that was all I had to say.  Well, she comes back at me like I just dissed her personally by saying I don't agree with the article and was all, "It's a scientific study, rooted in research, go read the related article, it has all the facts right there" blah blah blah (I wish I had thought ahead and copied the conversation so you could see what was actually said, because once I unfriended her, I can't see anything I've posted on her wall.)  This sparked a fight back and forth that ended in me unfriending her on Facebook.  I'm sure that kinda sounds childish, but I will explain my reasoning for this.  What started as me having an opposing opinion turned into a full-on attack on my intelligence from this girl, which even included her insinuating that I thought that anyone who went to the University of Texas, which is where the doctor who conducted the study is from, is an ignorant hack and has a faulty education!  She even named a friend of hers specifically ("Maybe it's just UT.  Everyone who goes there must just be a hack.  Sorry, Whitney!"  I paraphrased a bit, but that was the gist of it)-like I know this girl and would insult her education!  I never said anything about the credibility of the person in charge of the study or of the institution that he works for!  In the responding remarks I made after her coming back with "it's rooted in science," I simply pulled information from the article that coincided with my opinion.  I never made it personal against her.  Because it wasn't.  I was merely disagreeing with what the article stated.  From the way she lashed back at me, you would think that she was the one who wrote the article or even more, conducted the study.  And she got all petty and nasty about it, too.  I'm sure she and her "intellectual" friends had a nice laugh at my expense and I don't care.  It got to the point where I didn't even reply anymore to her comments because I wouldn't have been nice.  I didn't want to stoop to her level or give her any justification for her actions.  It was time to walk away.  I don't need negativity like that in my life.  I don't need someone who claims to be my friend one moment and the next, talks down to me like I'm an idiot.  To me, that's not a real friend.  Real friends don't treat you like you are less of a person than they are, for whatever reason. be it looks, intelligence, money or standards.  And that's why I decided to remove her from my friends.

I've known this person since we were in the 5th grade.  She has always acted like she was too good for our group of friends, and that we should feel all special that she graced us with her presence.  She always acted like she was so much smarter than the rest of us, so much prettier and well-to-do because she wore brand name clothes.  She tried so hard to get in with the popular crowd in our high school (which bombed) and just never seemed to be happy with the real friends that she had.  It's just been one thing after another with her and I guess I thought as we grew up and became adults, that she'd mature and grow out of it.  Apparently I was wrong.  This little incident just proved that.  All I did was voice an opinion that was contrary to hers and all hell broke lose.

I can have an opinion and it can be different from yours and we can still be nice to each other.  It doesn't make me wrong and you right or me right and you wrong.  It just means that we disagree on something.  And that's ok.  You don't have to be nasty or mean or condescending because I think differently than you.  That's NOT how friends treat each other.

Now, on to why I think that article is hogwash.

If you conduct a study to find out who will live longer, drinkers or non-drinkers, wouldn't you get more accurate results if you used actual non-drinkers?  I would think that you would use people who have actually never drank than former alcoholics.  It would probably pad the numbers a bit.  They claim that "One important reason is that alcohol lubricates so many social interactions, and social interactions are vital for maintaining mental and physical health."  So, there are no actual benefits from the alcohol itself, but from the activities taking place while drinking.  I know plenty of social people who never drink.  It's like they're saying if you don't drink, all you do is sit at home, alone, and wallow in self-pity, which will kill you sooner than someone who goes out and parties every night.  They also claim that alcohol is a good stress reliever.  True, it might be. But I can think of at least a dozen other ways to relieve stress that are much better for you.  And, if heavy drinking is so good for you, why do people die from alcohol poisoning?

There's even this little disclaimer: "The authors of the new paper are careful to note that even if drinking is associated with longer life, it can be dangerous: it can impair your memory severely and it can lead to nonlethal falls and other mishaps (like, say, cheating on your spouse in a drunken haze) that can screw up your life. There's also the dependency issue: if you become addicted to alcohol, you may spend a long time trying to get off the bottle."  Notice the big "IF" there?  That and there are a lot of variables that they left out.  They used a sample group who had needed outpatient services within 3 years of being selected for this study.  To me, that's a big red flag.  These individuals obviously had pre-existing health conditions.  Also, there is never a mention of these people's lifestyle habits.  They might have had a bunch of "non" drinkers, but what if half of that group were heavy smokers.  What if they were severely over-weight?  What if they had lifelong health problems?  These are all things that I would think would be important to consider in a study like this.  All they mention as contributing factors are "socioeconomic status, level of physical activity, number of close friends, {and} quality of social support."  The fact that they claim that people from lower socioeconomic statuses drink less (or not at all) makes me laugh.  Have they never seen the homeless guys asking for change so that they can go buy some booze?  Not that I'm implying that all homeless people are alcoholics, because I know they're not, but a large number are.  In fact, a large number of poorer people drink as a way to escape from their money woes.  "It's true that those who abstain from alcohol tend to be from lower socioeconomic classes, since drinking can be expensive."  Tell that to all of the poor college who waste their tiny paychecks on alcohol to throw parties to impress their friends.  Basically, to me, this article leaves a lot of important questions unanswered and makes a lot of lofty assumptions.  I think it's a little ridiculous to claim that a person who will never touch a drop of alcohol will die sooner than a binge drinker.  For the record, I have nothing against people that drink.  I don't drink, it's against what I believe in.  But I don't judge people that do drink, I don't think less of them nor do I think that drinking makes them bad people.  They just have different standards and beliefs than I do.  There's nothing wrong with that.

So, what do you think?  Was I just being silly and too sensitive?  What do you think about the article and its claims?  Am I way off in thinking it's wrong?  I really do want to hear what you think.

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  1. Hi Courtney,

    I've had to deal with similar situations on Facebook. It has also resulted in my "defriending" people who I'd gone to high school or college with, and even members of my own family. I don't think you are being petty or silly - if someone posts something on a social networking site, they are opening themselves to the possiblity that they aren't going to like all the opinions they receive. Even if they don't like it, they still should respect it and hear the other person out.

    Personally, I take all studies with a grain of salt because in two months another will come out that completely refutes the first study. I also think that personal experience sometimes outweighs the results of studies as each person is unique and reacts to stimulii and environment in different ways... but that's just me :)

  2. I completely agree with you. I am sickened by all of these people who spat free thinking, open minded, human rights.... UNLESS it has anything to do with morals, religion, or,heaven forbid, being heterosexual... THEN you have no right to speak and you are "uneducated" and "closed minded"

    The problem is that evil has no boundaries and good people avoid conflict. I'm proud of you for saying what you said. However, I think I might agree that drinkers live longer than non-drinkers. They always seem to be the survivors in the DUI's THEY cause. Poor guys, though, they just made a "mistake". Us non-drinkers never get credit for all the death related "mistakes" we're NOT making.

    Sorry for the rant... Long story short, I agree with you 100% You did good!!!


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