If you grew up in the U.S., you have probably seen Hollywood’s version of what spring break “should” entail: college students getting drunk on foreign beaches before posting it to make sure we all know just how much fun they’re having.
There is nothing wrong with having fun on a holiday. But is it harmful to propagate the Hollywood version of spring break as the ideal?
Foghorn staff members have spent spring breaks in variety of ways. Some have done week-long party vacations while others have traditionally spent the time with family. But we’ve all been exposed to this “party hard” ideal. The rise of social media has only spread the influence of the Hollywood spring break because now we’re not just seeing celebrities show-off their vacations — we can see our friends and classmates do it. And if they’re doing it, then why shouldn’t we?
Those on staff who have experienced the stereotypical party-centric spring break felt that the experience was enjoyable and that it was an example of something that college students just had to experience in college. And then never do again.
For those on staff who had a quieter spring break, they often felt like they were missing out — even if they knew that they were not the kind of person who would enjoy a bender on a foreign beach.
There is a cultural pressure to party hard in your college years, but the pressure is dialed up to 11 on spring break. These expectations are elevated by the media portrayals of college life and spring break in TV, movies and the popularity of Instagram pages like 5th Year, Barstool Sports and I’m Schmacked. These portrayals are either flat-out fictionalizations or representative of an extremely vocal minority.
Even within college, there are subconscious suggestions that college life and spring break are expected to be “wild.” Just about every university has its own in-house public safety or university police department which enforces rules and often do not report low-level infractions to local law enforcement. While there are legitimate reasons for this, it also creates an institutional culture wherein the rules seem to apply differently on college campuses. There is a perception that you can drink, smoke, party and engage in general debauchery in college with very little chance of your behavior affecting your university record.
College is the only time when it’s socially acceptable to party like this. If a 22-year-old told you they spent a week drinking and partying with friends, you may roll your eyes but you would not think that was strange for someone that age. However, if a 32-year-old told you that they did the same, it may invite some judgment.
We think it’s important for students to get over their fear of missing out — you know yourself better than anyone. If you believe that you’ll have fun when you’re having a wild party, then do that. However, if you know that you wouldn’t enjoy a five-day beach bender and are only looking to have a “made-for-Instagram” experience, you’ll only be wasting your time and money.