YouTube is doing the public a disservice by only showing drunk people having fun and getting laid, according to a new study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. For the study, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh analyzed the 70 most popular YouTube videos showing drunkenness, which had altogether received 333.2 million views, with the hope of learning how the public feels about what it's like to get drunk.
According to YouTube, at least, getting drunk is pretty much the best.
"While we know that some viewers may be savvy enough to skeptically view music videos or advertisements portraying intoxication as fun, those same viewers may be less cynical when viewing user-generated YouTube videos portraying humorous and socially rewarding escapades of a group of intoxicated peers," said Brian Primack, lead researcher and assistant vice chancellor for health and society in the Health Sciences school at Pitt.
The Washington Post's Lenny Bernstein and Jason Aldag report:
To find the videos, Primack's team chose five commonly used YouTube search terms for "intoxicated": drunk, buzzed, hammered, tipsy and trashed. They watched the top 70 and analyzed them for a wide variety of elements, including the characteristics associated with alcohol, consequences and users' sentiments.
They found that 89 percent of the videos include males while only 49 percent showed females. Eighty-one percent portrayed alcohol or intoxication in the audio and 69 percent included it in the video. Forty-four percent had a reference to a brand name... Eighty-six percent showed "active intoxication," but only 7 percent referred to alcohol dependence. Humor was associated with alcohol use in 79 percent of the videos, and games and attractiveness were referenced about a fifth of the time each. Tobacco showed up in 14 percent; marijuana and cocaine were in 4 percent each.
Aggression was found in 14 percent of the videos, injury in 19 percent and use of a vehicle in 24 percent. The most positive consequences were emotional, social and sexual.
To be fair, these videos are the most popular on YouTube for a reason. People come to YouTube to watch happy people doing fun things, not depressed alcoholics whose substance dependence has ruined their lives. The point is that these videos can be very influential--even more so than movies and television-- because it feels like they are coming from a peer.
"We're delivering [viewers] a particular type of script," Primack said in an interview with the Post. "'Look, all you have to do is look like this and behave like this. Drink this, eat this.'"