You check your phone on Saturday morning to see a 2–minute long snapstory where that girl you worked with on a project once last semester is now loudly shouting the lyrics to "Promiscuous" in a dark room, filled with faces you maybe recognize. You know she didn't post her tone–deaf rendition of Nelly Furtado sober. She's probably blacked out.
Penn has a weird obsession with blacking out, and the title that comes with it. In class, you hear people rave about it, and chances are, you or a friend has used the phrase "let's black out tonight" as a rallying cry before. So why is it exactly that students talk so much about blacking out?
Ever since Playboy named Penn its #1 party school of the year in 2014, students have had an obsession with clinging to the status. People have been more than eager to use the title as some sort of redemption for our otherwise pre–professional, business casual demeanor. It's a fair point too; Penn can be a lot to deal with at times, and a vibrant social life can be an outlet for all of that stress. However, hyping up this social life to the point where people leave Thursday midterms enthusing about getting drunk immediately seems a bit excessive. It's almost as if studying rigorously during the week leads to an institutional knee–jerk reaction to then getting plastered over the weekend.
So why are students fixated on blacking out specifically? The truth is, Penn students are mostly people who used to be kind of nerdy in high school and now spend the majority of their time arguing over clout. While many now organize themselves into social organizations (re: frats) and squabble over their relevance on Greekrank, deep down there is still that awkward, ambitious teen who we try to leave in the past. Blacking out is a symptom of trying so hard to forget that past. Social life is the assumed remedy to our internalized lameness, and blacking out, a metric of that social life.
However, we should take a minute and think about what blacking out really is. Drinking to a state where you cannot actively remember anything that happens is pretty dangerous. In the company of friends, blacking out can seem innocuous. However, in a new place, with people you don't know too well, blacking out can be frightening. Maybe practice moderation instead. Your body will thank you, and then maybe you can do some real social development with the newfound capacity in your brain.