The 21-year-old Serin rejects something that many people take for granted when they are young and in their twenties: the consumption of alcohol. "If you can't be funny without alcohol or be yourself, then something is going wrong," says the trainee in an energetic tone.
Born in Berlin in 2002, she belongs demographically to Generation Z. People who were born between 1995 and 2010 are attributed to her; they are also called Gen Zers or Zoomers. Serin is not alone in her decision to give up alcohol. Most of her circle of friends hardly or not at all drink, she emphasizes.
Is there a new trend towards sobriety emerging in Generation Z? Binge drinking, i.e. the consumption of at least five drinks at a party, has been recorded by the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) since 2004. A survey among 12 to 25 year olds in Germany showed that alcohol consumption in this age group is declining over the long term.
In 2004, for example, 21 percent of 12 to 17-year-olds said they drank alcohol at least once a week, but in 2021 it was just under nine percent. Among 18- to 25-year-olds, the figure also fell from 44 percent in 2004 to 32 percent in 2021.
Fear of losing control
So while many millennials — those born between 1980 and 1994 — get drunk more often, many Gen Zers stay away from excessive intoxication. "Avoiding a loss of control is one of the main reasons from a sociological perspective," explains social scientist Heino Stöver from the Institute for Addiction Research at the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences.
Control determines the everyday life of most young people, especially with regard to their own social media performance, says Stöver. For example, a wrongly worded Whatsapp message could destroy an entire friendship.
An unpleasant appearance under the influence of alcohol is therefore simply too socially risky for many zoomers. Serin, for example, is of the opinion that many people hide behind the alcohol in order to come out drunk. She advises working on self-esteem first before compensating for it with alcohol.
But aren't many of their peers hiding too - behind their well-curated profiles on the Internet? "Having a nice drink and polishing it up with Photoshop have something in common," jokes Stöver. Self-optimization and presentation are very important among younger people.
The "booze" loses its meaning
Young people act a lot in the virtual world, says the social scientist. Analogous meetings and the celebrations associated with them would take place less. Alcohol, binge drinking, "getting drunk" are no longer of central importance.
Better chatting than drunk in the park: Has the pandemic changed the social life of younger people? The psychologist Pauline Stockmann explains that the Corona period inevitably led to an increase in the online activities of young people. Instagram and Co. have relieved social isolation, but have intensified other problems, such as the focus on externals.
The "Happy Clappy Club" brought to life by Stockmann is a modern practice concept and is aimed directly at Gen Zers. Therapy and advice is therefore not only given in the premises of her Berlin practice, but also on social media. "We call it psychotainment." The point is not to trivialize topics such as lovesickness, but to break the taboo on mental disorders.
The psychologist suspects the need for self-care and the desire to "question and be allowed to change established traditions" as reasons for the alcohol abstinence among zoomers. In addition, there are more forms of expression in a pluralistic society, adds Stöver. "We also see tendencies towards mockery of alcohol in a multicultural society."
In the case of Serin, social life takes place in the dance studio of her hip-hop crew. The weekends are primarily quiet with her: watch series and play games. From time to time she also goes out with friends. To eat.