October 2017

Alcohol Abuse and Its Effects on College Campuses

Alcohol is all around us. It’s a staple in our culture whether you’re out to eat, watching a basketball game, or heading to your friend’s St. Patrick’s Day party. We love the social implications and events that alcohol is associated with. It lets us have at least something in common with the person next to us while taking the edge off so we can have a great night.

However, that culture often leads to lots of binge drinking and alcohol abuse, especially on college campuses. I’d like to discuss the culture surrounding drinking I have experienced on my college campus, health problems associated with alcohol, the positive effects of a nice night out, and some comparisons with other drugs.

Drinking is a big part of college. Alcohol is everywhere: at every party you go to, in lots of conversations, at sporting events, and at tailgates. Most college students choose to partake in drinking. Studies show that nearly 80% of college students drink, and nearly 67% engage in regular binge drinking. These numbers are high, and there are obvious reasons why.

One big one is to relieve stress. Many students choose to go party on the weekends because it’s an easy way to forget about the past five days of hard studying and the tests that you had to take.

Another big reason is that drinking alcohol makes social situations easier. My LA Therapy's website explains that "If you have a social anxiety disorder you may long for connection while at the same time feeling debilitated by social interactions."

If you suffer from social anxiety, it can be easier to strike up a conversation with somebody once loose off of a few drinks.  It’s easier to fit in, and sometimes easier than explaining to every single person you see at the party why it is you’re drinking water. 

Is alcohol simply a band-aid, an unhealthy coping skill masquerading as a Band-Aid to your problems?

Effects of Alcohol 

There are a plethora of both short term and long term effects of consuming alcohol. Drinking in the short term can cause slurred speech, drowsiness, distorted vision and hearing, impaired motor skills, anemia (loss of red blood cells) and sometimes blackouts. These effects, although daunting, are often what is sought after during a night of college drinking. The alcohol causes us to loosen up (impaired judgment and motor skills) and feel good. This allows us to have more fun, talk to people uninhibitedly, and let ourselves have a better time.

Long-term health consequences of consistent alcohol abuse are a bit more dangerous. The worst thing that can happen is death or serious injury. Alcohol can severely inhibit your ability to drive and if you choose to drink and drive, there’s always the chance you doze off and hit someone, sending you to jail for manslaughter. Unintentional injuries such as car crashes, falls, burns, or drowning are associated with continuous use of alcohol, as are intentional injuries such as firearm injuries, sexual assault, or domestic violence. More effects of long-term alcoholism include alcohol poisoning, high blood pressure, stroke, liver disease, nerve damage, sexual problems, and ulcers. Another obvious one is problems with family and relationships.

While there are lots of negative effects of consuming alcohol, there ARE positive ones too!

First of all, let’s consider what moderate consumption means. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as one drink per day for women, and up to two drinks per day for men. Positive effects include a lowering of the user’s risk of cardiovascular disease, lengthening of the user’s life, libido improvement, and a decreased chance of developing dementia and diabetes. There are studies that have shown all of these are true, which leads me to state that a glass of wine with dinner on occasion should be something to indulge in.

Alcohol vs. Other Drugs

While alcohol is probably the most socially accepted drug, I think it’s just as harmful as some other drugs out there that are abused. Other popular drugs include Adderall, marijuana, ecstasy, and psychedelics like LSD and mushrooms. Adderall and marijuana are both on the rise in terms of use among college students. Dubbed “the study drug”, Adderall is an amphetamine, a stimulant that college students get ahold of in order to put down long marathon study sessions. Its use has been on the rise, and these drugs can be fairly addictive.  Marijuana is on the rise as well, jumping from a 30% usage rate to 38% from 2006 to 2015. It’s one of the safer drugs out there and is being used for stress relief and enjoyment.

Alcohol is a drug that’s use has been rampant for a long time. It’s legal to get ahold of at young ages; it’s in advertisements, movies, TV shows, and your house. It’s everywhere. It’s good to be wary of, especially if you’re entering college or in high school, the statistics and facts surrounding underage drinking.

I hope after you read this, you think twice about binge drinking and going out next time. Although alcohol can definitely be enjoyed in a smart and safe way, you’d be better off safe than sorry.





The Influence of Black and White Hat Marketing Strategies on Social Media

Marketing and social media have conjoined more recently than ever. Everyone is trying to make a quick and easy buck, and combining that with social media is a big attention-grabber for most people.

Two big types of digital marketing are black hat and white hat. Black hat SEO refers to aggressive techniques and strategies to buy and gain influence that is considered “cheating” by search engine algorithms (they are inorganic links, and usually spammy in nature).

White hat refers to strategies that typically take more time, but are considered “fair play” by search engine algorithms. They are not spammy, and actually provide useful content to the reader. I’ll be discussing various examples of these methods that I experience as a social media user, as well as my thoughts on social media, specifically Instagram, as a means to sell products and influence people.

Black Hat Tactics Are On the Rise, Despite Cutbacks By Instagram and Other Social Media

There are multiple tactics used and employed by users on social media. I have experienced a number of them, and I’ll share them along with my thoughts. Black hat SEO tactics exist on social media and it’s very common, even though Instagram has been cutting down on it. Black hat social media refers to using sneaky tactics that are outside of the website’s guidelines to further your influence or to gain something. Buying followers is a cheap way to gain status on social media. You can pay companies or buy apps that build your follower base with fake people, or bots as they’re called. This acts exponentially because users will be much more likely to follow an account with lots of followers rather than one without any. This is regardless of whether the followers are bots or not, because the user can’t tell.

Another tactic that I have experienced is when accounts use a program that automatically follows and unfollows accounts. This happens a lot in the guitar community on Instagram. I get followed by lots of random guitar player accounts, immediately go check the list of people they follow, and I won’t be on there. I’m one of the smarter users who knows when they see something sketchy like this, but more often than not a user will follow that person back without any thought or hesitancy. 

There Are Still Legit Methods Being Used!

There are definitely reasonable tactics on social media to gain influence, and a common one is for accounts to create a sort of “pod” or group agreement where all accounts agree to like and comment on each other’s posts. I see this in the meme community. When one account comments on one that I follow, I am able to see their comment because they both follow each other. They’ll also repost another meme’s post and give them a shout out. These tactics make it much more likely for me to follow another account or like another post that I wouldn’t have normally liked. This tactic also sort of provides a homey, communal vibe that I enjoy being a part of. The other obvious white hat tactic is to make great content and follow the right people. Users flock to things that are good. However, pods can be considered a grey area because they are technically not “organic” or “natural”, when taken into the consideration that the account managers will probably “like” all the pod members’ posts even if the post itself may be spammy or not quality content.


The Weight of Influencer Marketing on Social Media

Influencer marketing and digital marketing are a huge part of Instagram and all social media platforms. Famous people and accounts with a large number of followers are much more likely to be successful influencers than other accounts. The most obvious reason is that they have way more followers, which means more chances to influence a potential buyer or customer of the product that they’re selling.

Another reason is that people love famous people. We look up to those who have hundreds of thousands of followers and those who are famous. They have influence, and that is highly valuable social currency. We are much more likely to purchase an item seen in an advertisement if someone we know, admire, and love is sponsoring it. This is why advertising companies, for decades, have been paying sports stars, celebrities, etc. to go on TV or magazines and advertise their product.

I follow multiple meme and funny video accounts on Instagram, one being an account called HoodClips. This is a good example of how a random popular page on social media can highly influence a market share. They have 9.2 million followers, and about once every nine posts they’ll tag a brand called Fashion Nova and post a picture of attractive girls wearing their clothes. You can bet that lots of followers buy clothing from this site solely because they think it’s the “cool” thing to do. Examples of this sort of marketing are endless and can be seen all around. 


In all, social media is a unique and cool way to market things and influence people. Be sure to watch out for sketchy techniques such as buying followers, automatically following and unfollowing people, and report them if you feel cheated. Pay attention to white hat tactics, and learn to be a smarter social media user.