Dial D for . . . Huh?

Drunken cell-phone calls on campus—and online

One address catering less to a frat-friendly audience is drunkdialing.tribe.net, one of the interest groups that are part of the San Francisco–based Tribe. Centered in the alkie city of New York, the drunk-dialing cluster has been discussing trends and tales of DUI since 2004, ranging from general tips (delete numbers before going out) to dealing with the "fake drunk dial," in which someone pretends to be hammered. With over 90 members (and a female moderator), the site has become something like a boozed-up Friendster.

illustration: Ted McGrath

Such complicated communication strategies didn't exist in our grandparents' day. There was no publishing of a drunken telegram in the city's newspaper. Today, a combination of technology and impaired judgment easily blurs morals, creating a surreal space where silly impulsive calls can result in people in Japan grinning over your escapades. Our Samsung shenanigans appear to be locking us into an extended adolescence, where our inappropriate behavior is encouraged and analyzed online. Despite the bacchanalian tone of these drunk-dialing sites—drunk not just on spirits but technology—there's something invasive about having your calls preserved in all their uninhibited glory. To be truly liberated today might entail leaving your phone at home.

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