It’s official: staying in is the new going out.
Millennials - those aged between 18 and 35 - prefer quiet nights in as opposed to swigging Buckfast on street corners (a much vaunted Ulster tradition among those of us who grew up on the very fringes of civilisation), propping up bars while talking to unsuitable men or engaging in deeply embarassing dance moves in nightclubs where the music is so loud it makes your internal organs bleed, you end up kissing people rather than conversing because nobody can lip read that well and everyone appears to be drinking neon pink liquid from jam jars while flicking their hair and taking endless selfies.
New data from the Office for National Statistics dropped the price of nightclub admission from the list of common goods and services used to calculate inflation because numbers of clubbers have dropped for this age group so dramatically.
Hundreds of clubs across the UK have closed in recent times - Belfastians will remember now defunct hotspots like the M Club for example.
The demise of nightclubbing has been in part attributed to relaxed licensing laws that make bars more suitable options for late night drinking - and certainly, if you are on the pull as the clear majority of this testosterone-charged age bracket are - it is certainly much easier to look alluring in a pub booth with romantic lighting rather than exposing your climber’s legs atop a spot-lit podium.
The new trend for hip people staying in is also, say researchers, explained by the soaring popularity of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Tinder, Whatsapp and other such forums where users exchange endless pictures of themselves desperately trying to prove that they are definitely more sexy, successful and wonderful than their peers and are in fact having the maximum amount of fun that anyone in history has yet had.
Millennials are much less likely to engage in medieval practices like meeting face to face over coffee because everything of importance now happens virtually and nothing can be reasonably believed to have occurred unless it has been documented, blow by blow, via a stream of smiling selfies and group shots on Facebook or Twitter - heinous networks we have invented to facilitate competitive living or, to put it another way, endlessly photographing our every waking movement so as to make our lifestyles seem so aspirational they could be sponsored by Colgate.
Add to this the predominance of smart phones, a new part of the human anatomy, and every millennial dweeb comes across as a demented Samuel Pepys of the Twittersphere, bothering their cronies with a 24/7 rolling news feed of inanity - “I was on the landing and now I am in the living room and I am lovin’ life!”
If I sound hard on millennials and their obsession with live tweeting from parties or evenings on the sofa it’s because I am simply affronted that nobody seems to think it is socially acceptable to confess that they spent Friday night eating an entire block of cheese alone, sinking an expensive Chateauneuf-du-Pape and crying into cushions between much gnashing of teeth.
This social media obsession is like finding oneself in an Orwellian nightmare of surveillance wherein the camera-ready normcore population takes all. Nightclubs can go to hell, but let us keep the reality of our misery and let us continue to defy convention by making eye contact - imagine! - with our chums.