Margot Huysman wonders why the London tech scene is so drink-sodden. Is it a boy thing?
Since I arrived on the start-up scene, my liver hasn’t had a moment of rest. Networking events, after-work cocktails, office parties… you name it, I’ve been invited to it – and got riotously drunk at it, along with everyone else. But why is London’s Silicon Roundabout so completely fuelled by alcohol?
Populated by so much young talent, in a way, the tech scene is a bit like university, only without the lectures. There’s a reason why Google Campus is called a campus. Especially in the start-up world, the hours are long and stressful, and you may very well end up spending entire nights at the office during crucial phases of the company. The easiest way to decompress and let go of the stress? Booze.
Is it the right way to deal with pressure? Not really. But that doesn’t stop people from turning to the wine and the mojitos on a night out. Our own office, White Bear Yard, has its own Jägermeister machine, for crying out loud, and we’ve all heard about what you can find in TechHub’s fridge.
But more than just taking the edge off work, alcohol is there to take the edge off, end of. It’s easy to forget, but the tech scene is populated by smart… nerds. Not that every single person working in tech fits that bill, but while many can write you a line of code in five minutes or design an incredible web page, they are not necessarily terrifically comfortable in social situations.
And, just as you may have thought at university that alcohol would take the edge off approaching your crush, or simply help you to interact more fluently with a group of new people, the tech scene turns enthusiastically to alcohol as social lubricant.
And that’s why I’m not about to get all moralistic on you, like those dull as ditchwater girl bloggers who claim their industry is boozy because it’s so male-dominated. That isn’t why people drink.
People drink because being social isn’t as easy as it looks. For some, it can be a chore. So going straight for the bar can make things easier: when you can’t hide behind a computer monitor, sometimes a glass of something feels like the next best thing.
But, thank God, most of us have jobs to just about keep us on the straight and narrow. I don’t see much cause for alarm just yet.
Then again, things can quickly escalate. I’ll spare you some of the more outrageous stories I’ve heard coming out of the scene. Suffice it to say, waking up in a server room at 2 a.m. isn’t nearly as funny as it sounds…