Partying as a refuge for college students

Quézia Arruda Cunha, Reporter

It’s Friday night and there’s a party in the USA. A Jay-Z song is always on. I believe you already know what I’m talking about.

It is precisely the behind-the-scenes of the social phenomenon of parties that I would like to delve into here.

Current studies, such as one conducted in 2019 by Niznik Behavioral Health, in the field of young people’s mental health indicate that social interaction and peer socialization are vital components in mental health, as socialization involves multiple brain mechanisms essential for teen growth. This means that the simple act of going to a party, in itself, has a great mental and physical benefit for teenagers.

However, you must be thinking that this is not so accurate, since parties usually involve alcoholic beverages, and you are right. The same study above also makes it clear that such a benefit to the individual’s psychic development is only positive when there is no abuse in the use of drugs or alcohol.

One of the points that I consider fundamental in this quest to understand the intense desire to attend parties comes from a sociological perspective. According to the functionalist approach of the French sociologist Emile Durkheim, people who are starting their academic career at a higher level of education, also known as freshmen, tend to see alcohol consumption as the opening door to new and future friendships.

Following Durkheim’s line of reasoning, human beings need to find other pieces that allow them to feel belonging to a social group. It is part of human nature, according to the functionalist view, to seek connections and points in common with other individuals in order to create possible interactions or brief socializations.

When a person analyzes other people drinking at a party and having a posture of freedom, engagement, and joy, the desire to insert oneself in the same emotional pattern is almost automatic.

However, I believe the biggest reason a freshman goes to parties every Friday night isn’t just to build social connections. College students, given such academic and professional demands, tend to have pressure as a daily companion.

Pressure to keep high grades. Pressure to get involved as much as they can in student clubs and organizations. Pressure to submit infinite assignments. Pressure to make money. Pressure to deal with your own loneliness and independence. All this leads to emotional and psychic stress. Our mind becomes a battleground, where the thoughts that denote failure and weakness are the winners.

Therefore, in view of such an emotional charge of negative impact, parties are seen as an escape mechanism. In the party environment, drinks, laughter and music are like medicines that, for many students, are able to momentarily cure pains that have deep roots.

Relief is perhaps the best word to describe such a refuge. The intense consumption of alcohol, for example, intensifies the creation of a fictional parallel reality capable of promoting a fantastic world that escapes the painful ordinary of the weekday.

I see no problem in creating alternative scenarios. As someone guided by creativity, I believe that imagining relief scenarios in our heads is a natural part of our social body. However, treating parties as self-medication for psychological wounds can be a dark road with no return.

It is more than necessary to validate our feelings of pain, fear, insecurity and high pressure. Nonetheless, along with that, it is even more important to recognize that we are fragile to self-medicate with something that only produces ephemeral effects.

Covering wounds with parties does not completely cover the scar. It is necessary to expose such pains to ourselves in order to seek professional and technical help from those who can offer us much more lasting refuge than a casual Saturday night party.