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5 Lessons We can Learn from the Saga of Vodka Samm

By now, most people know perhaps more than they would like about Vodka Samm, the 22-year old University of Iowa student who was arrested for public intoxication at a Hawkeyes game over Labor Day Weekend.  Her BAC level?  .341.  At such an astronomical level of intoxication, she should have been unconscious.  It’s quite possible she could have died.  Instead, she was stable enough to live-tweet her arrest by campus police, turning her into an instant internet sensation.  Her number of Twitter followers skyrocketed.  Her profile photo, which screamed defiance—two middle fingers in the air, her mouth open, her tongue out—went viral.  She was applauded for her recklessness and celebrated for her outright, undeniable I Don’t Give a F—- attitude.

I was captivated by the news.  Captivated and thoroughly disgusted.  Here was this pretty young woman who was lucky enough to be enrolled in a good college and she was throwing her life away because she was caught up in the briefly tantalizing but ultimately destructive world of partying.

And she was being praised for it.

What does this say about our culture?  What does this say about Vodka Samm’s generation and their disregard for poise, strong work ethics, and fortune?  Moreover, is my daughter, who is only two years younger than Samantha Gouide, at risk of becoming the next Vodka Samm?

I trust she isn’t.  My daughter is level-headed.  My daughter is diligent.  My daughter has tremendous class.  Still.  I wanted to call her immediately after reading about Vodka Samm and say: “Don’t be that girl.  Just don’t.”  But we have to go deeper than that, and teach our children the following lessons:

Use social media wisely

The tweets and photos and Facebook updates Vodka Samm posted prior to and after her arrest will likely haunt her for years.  She might be considered popular by her peers now but her future interactions with her professors will be tainted by her actions.  Her chances of securing a job are going to be complicated by her past.  Her honesty, credibility, and stability have been questioned, which will certainly inform some of her relationships now and down the line.  Remind your children that what goes on the internet often stays on the internet.

Stay focused

It’s nearly impossible to get in trouble when your time is filled with commitments.  Suggest extracurricular activities to your children that don’t involve beer pong and quarters.  Encourage them to find an internship or a part-time job.  Urge them to join the debate team, the campus newspaper, or sports.  The more engaged they are, the better.

Drink sensibly

Or, don’t drink at all.  I would suggest abstaining from alcohol—and I do—but I also know better.  College kids are curious.  College kids want to have fun.  College kids are susceptible to peer pressure.  So if you’re going to drink, be reasonable about it.  Arrange for a designated driver.  Eat before attending a party.  Stick to one drink.  Stay close to practical friends, and steer clear of people who are notorious for bringing people crashing down into their drunken disasters.  Keep your wits about you at all times.  And when it’s time to go home, go home.

Value yourself

Sure, some might think Vodka Samm’s outrageous photos in various states of intoxication are hot or sexy but to most they shout insecurity, desperation, and tactlessness.  The more you respect yourself and behave accordingly, the more you’ll be appreciated and admired.

Think ahead

College is a valuable place and time to explore opportunities and learn about yourself but it’s also vital to maintain forward momentum and keep your goals in mind.  Had Vodka Samm been thinking how her atrocious behavior would scar her, I doubt she’d have consumed her body weight in booze.  Consider possible ramifications.  Think big picture.  Respect the future that awaits you.

To my daughter I offer this: There is nothing more unattractive than a woman in a stupor.  To Vodka Samm, I’d like to say, go home, sweetie.  You’ve embarrassed yourself, and you’ve embarrassed us.  Now, please get some help. You need it.

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