Seemingly every other week, a new study is released which proves, beyond doubt, that each generation is living a cleaner lifestyle than the last. For example, the vast majority of millennials apparently believe that getting drunk is "pathetic", or belongs "to another generation", i.e. the Gen Xers and Boomers who raised them through a haze of Echo Falls and whatever people smoked before they smoked skunk. Similarly, Gen Z's drink and drug use is supposedly way down compared to millennials'.
Thing is, though: is it? Is it really? Go to any freshers week and watch as 18-year-olds strawpedo Buckfast and snort big slugs of K off their iPhone screens, and you'd be forgiven for thinking everything is much the same as it's always been. Of course, it's always hard to get a proper grip on a topic through data alone, so we thought the best thing to do would be ask some Gen Zs what they make of millennials' party habits, to gauge whether there really has been such a dramatic shift in attitudes.
The example night out we came up with is, admittedly, a very big night out – a heart-palpitations-and-existential-dread-for-the-following-week kind of night out – but also it won't look totally foreign to a lot of people aged between 24 and 35:
"So a BIG millennial night out might be: gather at the pub at 6PM, have a couple of pints, buy a gram of cocaine between a couple of people, do some cocaine by about 9PM, have some more drinks. Move on to a friend's flat, do more coke, start drinking spirits. Maybe drop a pill before going to a club at about midnight. Get to the club, drink some more, maybe do another pill or some more coke. Get home at 5AM, have some more drinks, do some ketamine or smoke some weed to bring you down. Go to sleep around 11AM."
Obviously Generation Z takes drugs, but I feel in general, having just started university [at Edinburgh], the only drug I've seen is a lot of weed – apart from Psychedelic Boy, who drops LSD on the daily. But yeah, apart from the occasional oddball who wears tie-dye T-shirts to breakfast, other than that, I think it's gentler – although I do think it's far more alcohol-heavy.
Then again, it's all to do with the demographic. Other unis, like Manchester, Newcastle and Bristol, are extremely drug-heavy, but here in Edinburgh it's more about wine… and spirits... and I think that can relate to most of Generation Z. Where millennials take drugs, us Gen Zs sip wine…in a non-twatty way. I also think the new attitude towards drink and drug intake, among Gen Z, is very different to that of the millennials. Among people here, if you're the one person throwing up and having to cut everyone's night short, you no longer gain lad points, but rather become a bit of an inconvenience or burden. It's also becoming far more acceptable to be "that person" who doesn't drink or take drugs, and our generation is respecting that more, instead of swapping your Ribena for a vodka-cranberry when you're not looking.
A general 18-year-old's big night out is far more focused on the pre-party than what I imagine millennials' nights out are like. Mainly because of our money situation, but every single night out has to start with a heavy pre – probably heavier than I would drink on any night out, starting with strong spirits and keep that going until, judging from my friends, the coke or MD comes out, and then hit the clubs until about 5 or 6AM. Personally, I think the millennials' going "out-out" habits seem quite mindless, and I can't really understand why people would want to get completely, completely monged on a night out, not be able to speak to anyone and remain in their own bubble, whereas I think that alcohol is a lot more sociable in those sort of situations.
But in regard to the negative connotations around millennials, I would disagree with that completely and say they have a lot more perspective of the world and they've seen it better than us, Generation Z, who have grown up in a technological bubble and are pretty self-absorbed in comparison. But still, our generation's party habits are way better than theirs, so…
WATCH: The Truth About Ecstasy
My nights out will generally start with pre-drinking dirt cheap wine at someone's house, and we will have all bought our own drugs. Coke is expensive, so it's rare there will be lots of that going around, but people usually do ket anyway, so slightly different… But yeah, pre-drink hard, bit of Blossom Hill or Echo Falls and then we'll probably go to a club night somewhere in, like, south London or Dalston and continue doing small amounts of drugs throughout the evening, getting a bit waved and then going home at 4ish and, you never know, maybe bun a zoot at a mate's house. But yeah, that's a pretty big night. In comparison to millennials I know there's a big drinking and drug culture for us, but because we can't afford as many drugs, it's not as heavy as them. So I think drugs are more of an after-thought for most of us – like, you can survive on a night out with just alcohol to have a good time… and maybe a bit of ketamine… instead of doing a line of coke at pre-drinks and keeping it heavy all night. I think millennials are far more drug-based. But yeah, I would say that a lot of our "going out" culture is reliant on our lack of funds, thus why drugs are sadly more of an after-thought and why there is the emphasis on a fat pre with bloody awful £4 bottles of wine.
I would say it's not my typical big night out, but definitely, looking at friends and people I know, drug habits are pretty similar between millennials and us, although I reckon the majority of our generation is far more into heavy drinking than the millennial extent of drug-use. The drink culture is much more prevalent in people I know, rather than the drug culture. I reckon richer children take more drugs because they can actually afford it, seeing as drugs are fucking expensive now – so maybe they're the ones more similar to millennials, just because they have the cash to spend. And yeah, in terms of typical mong-y drug nights out, I personally don't usually take them, because considering mental health patterns you are more likely to become depressed or anxious, but that's only because I'm very paranoid about my mental health!
That night out you just described to me is my ideal night out, however my funding for that is not always there. But if I can get my hands on whatever is going on there, then yes, I'm usually up for that. However, the whole clubbing culture – which I think was much more prevalent with millennials – is starting to die now. Where, in the past, you had all those "anything goes" clubs, they're all getting shut down and it's starting to mellow out a bit, and there was definitely more of a scene around it a while ago – a scene that I think is far less prominent for our generation, which is really, really shit.
Living in London, I don't think the nightlife for our generation is great, unless you're willing to spend loads of money, so that's also a big difference between us and millennials. Also, in London I think the drink and drug culture for Gen Z is super intense, because you kind of catch wind of it when you're quite young, so you end up doing drugs when you're like 14, and then that actually kind of mellows out as you get older – similar to how young kids discover vodka and spend a couple of years getting slaughtered on a half bottle of Glen's in a park, and then eventually learn to control their drinking habits.
The difference between millennials and us that sticks out to me is the amount of drugs out there, as well as the type, like the drug selection used to be a lot smaller and perhaps more intense, where now you have all of these spin-off drugs, like stronger bud and xanax – more things that are designed to knock you out, and it seems you need to have more of an awareness of what you are taking, what's in it and how safe it is, which – from what I've heard – seems different to millennials.
I think our generation isn't as reliant on drugs as perhaps millennials are, but then again I have an odd view of the millennials – that they are far more mainstream-y, in the way that their nights out are drink, club, home, toke, whereas our generation, it seems, is a lot more underground, but then again maybe that's just because we're grimy, skint teenagers.
In relation to drugs and drink, I think it's more typical for our generation to split the two, like you either have a really long boozy dance night or you get fucked on drugs. We keep them separate. if you're starting with drugs you wouldn't really drink at the same time, so maybe that's just a generational heightened awareness of the dangers of mixing them. Maybe the main point is that if we had the money, our generation would be more likely to live the millennial lifestyle – like, getting drunk in pubs for a pre is almost unheard of for us, because we can easily splash all our cash for one night – which is very limited – just at the pub. Very sad.
More on VICE: