The sunlight streams in through your window, waking you from restless slumber. You sit up, head pounding and stomach churning, and reach for your phone. Squinty-eyed, you stare in disbelief and scream expletives at numbers you don’t recall dialing, and survey your message outbox, reading texts you’re positive you would never send. If this sounds familiar, you are a victim of the social phenomenon that is sweeping a nation of bar-crawlers and shot-pounders: the drunk dial.
Though some are immune to it, many suffer its inescapable consequences. Even Kurt Vonnegut spoke of drunk dialing when he said, “I have this disease late at night sometimes, involving alcohol and the telephone.”
What is it about a few too many wine coolers in the wee hours of the morning that makes us suddenly remember those acquaintances we don’t really like, or those former lovers that broke our hearts at the junior prom? And, more importantly, what the hell makes us reach for our cell phones to actually call them?
The first step to being clean is to move past denial and into admittance. Say it with me: hello, I own a cell phone, and I am a chronic drunk dialer.
Intoxicated dialing seems a natural human instinct. Lonely hearts and vengeful souls have been doing the deed since cell phones were invented, and with the introduction of unlimited messaging, have been kissing their dignity goodbye with every emotional, misspelled text. Careers have been ended, sexual histories spilled and gossip wars begun with every drunk dial. The inevitable mistake of calling “ex-boyfriend HOME” instead of “ex-boyfriend CELL” has led to many a confused conversation with angry, awakened parents.
The real mystery is how one operates a cell phone when inebriated enough to actually want to use it for these reasons. Even more fascinating is the individual’s sudden coherency in remembering and correctly dialing the number of their drunk dialee, and yet not having the mental stability to realize that spilling their deepest secrets or their undying love is probably not advisable.
Text messaging is a whole new evil: the humiliating sentiments of the intoxicated party are forever immortalized in 141 characters or less as visible (and sharable) evidence. Unimaginable outcomes have emerged as a result of the Smartphone, which can act as a lethal mass texting device: chronic dialers often wake up to their iPhones buzzing with the sound of one thousand notifications on a regrettable Facebook status from the night before.
The consequences of such an unfortunate communication can be severe. It is good practice for you to designate a sober dialer for the night, someone who can skillfully avoid talk of romances past and remove cellular devices as soon as the first beer can is cracked open. Also, if karma intervenes, listen to it. If your phone dies or your desired conversationalist doesn’t pick up, take it as divine intervention. Do not leave a slurred voicemail. Do not borrow your friend’s phone. It is a sign.
Although this disease is serious, there are ingenious cures. Technology is now a key factor in the effort to eliminate the drunk dial from the inebriated nights of callers everywhere. The iPhone has a downloadable application that lets users lock contacts, and will forward your call to the service company’s voicemail, which will sternly remind you to stop drunk dialing and require that you perform a coordination exercise in order to unlock the contact. Pretty brilliant, considering most people are barely coherent enough to slide the unlock button on the iPhone itself.
LG Mobile has a similar device, developed a cell phone breathalyzer. Its purpose may be to stop the user from getting behind the wheel, but it doubles as a failsafe against getting behind the dialpad.
If all else fails, website textsfromlastnight.com provides a warning to chronic dialers by displaying the best and worst of drunk communications around the country every morning. And if you can’t beat ‘em, call ‘em: the iPhone also makes an application that allows the user to designate a certain list of acceptable drunk dials. Of course, all of these methods require the recognition and acceptance of one’s own illness.
So if you are one of the millions that suffer from the habit of drunk dialing, stop texting and pay attention. You don’t want to booty call that mistake from spring break and end up calling your mom. You don’t want to mass text the entire graduating class about how you’re still in love with your ex. You don’t want to send nasty messages to that girl you hate. You’re not as witty as your current state leads you to believe.
Nothing good can come from your operating a cellular device after that last game of beer pong. Do yourself and the peacefully sleeping world a favor — put down your phone.