By Zane Fletcher, Culture Editor
It’s a question nearly every college-aged student faces on the weekend—what to do?
For those of age and of the drinking persuasion, the choice is often simple because Omaha’s vibrant downtown bar scene offers manyenticing destinations.
However, for those of us who are under the legal age of drinking, we are often left at home with few options. This constant exclusion drives many disenfranchised, downtrodden youths towards an option equally intriguing, fun and illegal—fake IDs.
These students see many positivesto fake IDs (colloquially known as “fakes”)—the gateway to the barscene is opened, they can imbibe in an intoxicating elixir known as alcohol and they can spend time with their older friends—yet there is a dark side to fakes.
For starters, they are expensive. While some websites offer group discounts, it often costs in the vicinity of $150 to procure an identification card. In addition to the risk of getting kicked out of the bar and losing their IDs, students also risk a potential misdemeanor charge.
But what kind of culture are we living in where it is necessary for students to lie in order to have fun.
It’s no secret that Omaha is not the nightlife-centric, cultural Babylon that bigger cities like New York and Los Angeles are. While it a growing city and there are evermore opportunities for nocturnal happenings, the city is still largely limited to the bar scene.
According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report published in 2011, only four percent of countries have a drinking age of 21 orolder, as opposed to 62 percent where the age is either 18 or 19.
In the summer of 2014, as a19-year-old, I took a trip to England where the minimum legal drinking age is 18. I experienced a culture where the university youths were able to experience nightlife freely, and I can confirm that the experience was markedly different from how it is stateside.
It is no secret that a good amountof underage undergrads imbibe- an incontrovertible fact, really. Here, the law forces those between the ages of 18 and 21 into under-ground, often risky situations. With little supervision (i.e. bartenders, law enforcement, medical personnel,) drinkers who are already inexperienced become fearful of detection, and therefore make potentially life-threatening decisions.
In those countries where the minimum age is lower, they are able to drink more freely—and therefore more safely.
That said, it is important to consider if the fake ID industry is actually beneficial for everyone. This theory is twofold – not only do fakes allow college-age youths experience one of Omaha’s strongest features, it is also safer for them. Instead of imbibing in hiding, as many underage drinkers are wont to do, they start going out to local watering holes. There, they are under better supervision of their friends, as wellas the added trained supervision of bartenders and staff.
While I would like to write apiece about how the drinking age should be lowered to 18, that has been done before. While that idea has been floated often, I have my doubts that legislation of that magnitude would make it through the buzz saw of American legislative process. Therefore, we are forced to examine the best of the alternative.
Therefore, I believe the fake industry is the best of all associate devils—although it is mired in illegality, it is a key to freedom for the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to drink free.