Alcohol, Memes, and COVID-19

In light of the current global pandemic, you may have noticed the increased sharing of alcohol-related memes on your social media. Earlier this year, we talked about #winemom culture and how normalized alcohol use can be an important tool for how women create their identities as mothers and women.

Right now, these similarly toned joke posts on social media about increased alcohol consumption show how difficult it can be to cope during a period of social isolation, stress, and uncertainty. Recent global data have suggested that alcohol sales for beer, wine, and spirits has risen by a staggering 291 percent, generating research interest in investigating the effects of social isolation on alcohol use.

The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction recently released data suggesting that approximately 18% of Canadians have increased their alcohol use while staying home because of coronavirus. Common reasons for the increase in alcohol consumption include a lack of a regular schedule, boredom, stress, and loneliness.

One way people seem to be coping with these challenges is through humor on social media – including Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.

Media, such as social media, plays a large role in the way that alcohol use is normalized. Culturally, alcohol is part of how we relax, how we celebrate, how we reward ourselves, and how we manage anxiety in difficult situations.

Although it is difficult to know if women are, in fact, drinking more right now, we do know that alcohol sales have risen in Canada, and that women of childbearing age are drinking more in general. These increased rates of alcohol consumption are related to many factors, including targeted alcohol advertising to women (often referred to as the “pinking” of the alcohol industry) and women’s embracing of traditionally masculine styles of drinking. There is also the idea that women drink to reduce their stress (e.g., a glass of wine at the end of the day). (Read more…)