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The problem I see in this trend is treating sobriety like people treat a specialized diet, exercise regimen, or other fashionable, health-focused lifestyle choice: As if it is a virtuous facet of their identity, which must then be advertised to be understood as a defining part of who they are. My friends who are sober see their sobriety not as a badge to be shown off, but as a banal routine as necessary as breathing. It’s not their identity, but rather the method by which they can fully be their healthy selves. To read about hashtags like “#erasethestigma” is maddening—there was no stigma, there was only modesty and self-actualizing honesty. Drinking mocktails is great, even if you aren’t “sober curious”. I think they’re delicious, and I drink. But positioning that behavior as something worth celebrating or flaunting diminishes what sobriety truly is for the people who need it more than one month out of the year.
There’s something deeply unsettling about the commodification of sobriety but I’m still a little shocked by the backlash I’ve been seeing on twitter. Alcohol is a cancer-causing toxin and if opening mocktail bars offers a way for people to be social and have fun without it maybe that’s not so bad.
I think the feeling behind the article is valid, especially re: the health benefits, but I think the images and some of the tone makes it feel pretty ham-fisted.