The sober revolution
Cosmopolitan - South Africa|March 2020
Alcohol has fading appeal for younger generations, and the sober- curious movement is gaining momentum. Gen Zers are drinking over 20% less per capita than Millennials — who drank less than baby boomers and Gen Xers — did at the same age.
Zanele Kumalo
'much like Twitter when it first arrived, I thought an alcohol-free G&T was the dumbest thing I had ever heard of. Now I can’t get enough of either,’ says 27-year-old Modupe Oloruntoba, who’s clocked more than 70K tweets since she joined in July 2010. But the fashion writer doesn’t exactly knock back her drinks at the same pace.

There are numerous reasons why, such as being raised in a ‘strict but loving Nigerian Pentecostal household, as well as fear and anger about things that [have] happened to women when they drink in the presence of men.’

She’s had the odd glass here and there because of curiosity and pressure (which is why a lot of people start and continue drinking), but she’s put the bottle down now entirely because she simply doesn’t want to drink. ‘I believe I put more into – and get more out of – the time I spend with people, old and new, in a sober state,’ she says. ‘I seriously struggle with discipline, and alcohol is one less thing to worry about in that regard. I have more energy, clarity and focus.’ She’s not the only Millennial embracing going dry, and she’s not ashamed to say it with her chest.

Perhaps it’s helped that younger generations seem to be reclaiming the word ‘drink’. Why should it centre on alcohol? While Gen Xers notoriously lived according to the ‘work hard, play hard’ motto, the ever-questioning Gen Yers (Millennials) and Gen Zers want it all – and they know they’re not gonna get it all when they have to deal with hangovers and less brain productivity.

Janet Gourand, founder of World Without Wine (WWW), says, ‘I think alcohol is finally having a “cigarette moment” – meaning that the significant health risks are now in the public domain.’ That’s the knowledge the teens and people in their twenties have grown up with.

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