Why is TikTok making me feel bad about going out?

Apparently partying is only for depressed people who are running away from their problems. Raise your hand if you feel personally victimised.

Maturing is realising staying in is better than going out,” reads the caption. The video that accompanies this phrase varies: maybe it’s a girl lip syncing a trending sound or posing in head-to-toe Gymshark. Sometimes it’s a montage of bougie candles, a flatscreen playing Netflix and a plush looking duvet. Either way, the message on my TikTok for you page” is clear. Partying all weekend and crawling back to your desk hungover on a Monday morning is uncool – childish, even. You’ll be much happier if you go to bed early and work on yourself” instead.

Now, depending on who you ask, that might be true. Clubbing isn’t for everyone and, yes, hangovers are shit. Plus, if you’ve read literally anything on Gen Z, you’re probably aware of the fact that this generation is drinking (and, presumably, partying) way less than its millennial counterparts.

No judgement here, of course. You do you, and all that. But the thing is, on the other side of the partying divide, things do seem a little bit judgy, especially online. Videos of people relishing their nights in are flooding TikTok, each one with a slightly smug, sanctimonious tone. A phase I recommend skipping,” reads one caption haughtily, clubbing every night to avoid your problems.” Then there’s the videos of people dancing on tables, accompanied with a variation of When you go to a club sober and realize [sic] how unhappy and hurt everyone really is.” To be fair, the clubs in question do look a bit crap. But psychoanalysing a bunch of people who are merrily waving sparkler-stuffed bottles in the air seems a bit dramatic.

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Behind it all, there’s always the odd assumption that anyone who chooses partying over staying in must be deeply depressed, running away from their problems and, generally, messing up their life. Clubs are where dead people’ go and seek temporary happiness,” according to one person. As another user puts it: You drink so you can forget reality, you laugh when you just want to cry, you dance with despair to let those feelings go.”

Elsewhere on the feed: One thing that makes me really sad is people’s idea of fun is sitting in the kitchen at 5 o’clock in the morning raking out lines, waking up with the worst anxiety the next day, you’re overthinking everything that you done the night before. […] Please don’t do it to yourself.”

Crikey. What happened to going out to simply see a good DJ, dance with your mates and meet temporary besties in the girls’ loos? Even if you are feeling a little down, a proper good night out can really raise your spirits. Sure, there are elements of nightlife culture that can be genuinely detrimental to your mental health – namely, binge drinking and drugs – but that doesn’t mean that everyone in the club is on the brink of a breakdown.

Whether you prefer to have a quiet one or a bender at the weekend really has nothing to do with your personal wellbeing. But whether or not you make assumptions about others for their partying preferences probably reveals more about your own feelings than the people you’re critiquing. Maybe maturing is realising that you don’t need to pathologise something simply because you don’t personally find it enjoyable. Just a thought. It’s OK to not be OK. But it’s also OK to go out every weekend. Like I said, you do you.

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