Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Readers, I'm concerned about your drinking....

We need to talk. I've known most of you for 6 months, some of you, I've known a little longer. Lately, I have been concerned that you've all been drinking too much alcohol. Don't deny it. What brings me to this conclusion? MSNBC.com posted a short survey entitled Do you have a drinking problem? I would encourage everyone to take this survey, because I'm concerned about the amount of alcohol you've all been consuming lately.

The questions on the survey are classic. Do you ever need a drink to get started in the morning, or to stop shaking? Yeah, so what? I'm sorry but if you need a drink to stop shaking, you don't need a survey to tell you that you have a drinking problem. You need a helmet, and an insurance company with excellent legal representation.

Do you have “blackouts”? All the time. Again, if you're blacking out, or what comedian Dave Attell refers to as "time travel", I think it's time to accept that you have a drinking problem. The shaking and blacking out are not ambiguous signs of a drinking problem. This is like asking a kid in the oncology ward of your local hospital to take a survey to see if they have a cancer problem. If you're to that point, it's already a little too late.

Furthermore, if a person has these issues and they don't already realize that all the wetting the bed (referred to in the survey as "trouble at home"), parking the car in the neighbor's bushes (also "trouble at home") and 12 weekends with consecutive DUIs (Have you had problems connected with drinking during the past year?) may be a sign of a problem, a survey on MSNBC.com is not about to make this more clear.

Most people with drug and alcohol problems know and understand that they have a problem. Some are even proud of this fact. Those that don't know they have a problem are in denial, and would answer no to Do you wish people would mind their own business about your drinking -- stop telling you what to do? A lot of alcoholics I know, my family is full of them, don't care what other people think of their drinking, even when they're passed out on the front lawn in their tighty-whiteys as people are arriving for Christmas dinner. You don't reach that point by caring about other people and what they think of your drinking. In fact, it's quite a selfish problem really.

Crime surveys are the same way. Asking people about drug use or other illegal things that they do, and then pretending that the information provided is valid is the very definition of delusional. People who are breaking the law aren't going to report it on a survey, even an anonymous one, and people who aren't breaking the law will either blow it off or lie to make the survey more interesting because they know they're innocent. It's a load of crap.

So, if you failed the survey, don't worry. It will either validate what you already know or provide information that you don't care about. That's what I call a great survey.

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