By: Dominic Schwab
Vodka Eyeballing occurs when someone pours vodka, which is 40 percent alcohol, into his or her eyes. According to the fad’s proponents, Vodka Eyeballing causes drunkenness more rapidly than drinking since the alcohol directly enters the bloodstream.
Disgusting? Yes. But is it surprising? In our digital day and age, speed is highly valued, so college students would naturally value a speedier way to getting buzzed. They’ll do anything to get drunk fast.
The popular news media, however, reports that Vodka Eyeballing damages the cornea, the protective outer layer of the eye. The damage caused by Vodka Eyeballing can worsen with continued use and may cause blindness.
Elizabeth Ritzman, Director of the Wellness Center couldn’t understand this hip, new trend, referring to it as “B.S. of the highest caliber.”
“There’s no scientific reason to think it may work,” Ritzman said. “It’s just better to drink.”
Scribbling down my notes I asked if there had been any instances of Vodka Eyeballing at Dominican.
“We haven’t seen anything here,” Ritzman said.
I was thinking, well duh. If Vodka Eyeballing was happening at Dominican, people wouldn’t go to the Wellness Center because such practices would occur when the Wellness Center was closed: weekend nights.
To be fair, however, my friends and fellow college students didn’t understand Vodka Eyeballing either.
“Sounds like something you should never, ever do to your eyeballs,” senior Ryan Forrest said.
“It’s pretty goddamn stupid,” sophomore Neil Kloper said.
“That’s f—–,” senior Maggie Dohr said.
“I would never do it myself,” junior Spencer Campbell said. “And shame on anyone who does.”
Shame on me then because I had already decided to try Vodka Eyeballing. After Ritzman had said Vodka Eyeballing had not been reported to the Wellness Center, she asked why the Dominican Star would report this story if students here weren’t doing it.
Ritzman raised a good point. I had pondered the nature of the story myself when I had researched Vodka Eyeballing. I had noticed one common theme in the way the popular news media had thus far reported the story: fear-mongering.
News reports on Vodka Eyeballing had sounded like this: “Doctors are scared by a disturbing new trend among young people, Vodka Eyeballing, saying it may cause blindness!”
Had I just agreed to write another sensational story on the latest college fad? The nature of this story was so over-the-top, it disgusted me. I had begun to think the mainstream news media was increasingly turning to stories with “shock value” as opposed to “news value.”
When Ritzman had asked whether or not this Vodka Eyeballing story should be printed, I realized the story was obviously ridiculous. Yet, the story did have some news value; namely, the fact that Vodka Eyeballing can damage your eyes and may cause blindness. And that was when I decided to try it.
Later that night, I bought cheap vodka at a place not far from campus. While in the presence of two friends, I poured a bit of vodka into a shot glass.
While one friend recorded out of twisted fascination and the second sat in terrified awe, I held the mouth of the shot glass to my right eye socket. I inhaled. I exhaled. I threw my head back, eyes open.
Vodka poured into my right eye. First, there was only cold. Then, my eye was aflame.
I shut my eyes, brought my head forward and pulled the shot glass away. Excess vodka spilled down my face and T-shirt. I opened my eyes to put down the shot glass and suddenly my right eye stung worse than before.
I shut my eyes again and put the shot glass down. God, my eye burned! Remembering that I was on film, I explained the dangers of Vodka Eyeballing.
“This can damage your cornea,” I said. “And it may cause blindness.” Remembering the vodka running down my cheek, I asked my first friend, “Can I have a pocket tissue?”
Humbly accepting praise and congratulations from my friends, I grabbed the pocket tissue, wiped my cheek and walked to the sink. In the mirror, my right eye was bloodshot. Exposure to the air made the sting worse than when my eye was closed. I sat down, waiting for something to happen. Nothing ever did.
Vodka Eyeballing is just a trend, a meaningless fad. As with all trends and fads, they eventually disappear. That’s the benefit of our digital day and age. Although stupid trends and foolish fads suddenly come out of nowhere, they disappear just as suddenly when they cease to be culturally relevant.
And just as this ridiculous college fad will one day disappear, so, too, will the fear-mongering mainstream news media.