Why Gin Lane?

Like most things you adopt in your early adulthood, I regret the handle. I’ve sat across from too many people, in too many bars, over too many drinks and had to answer ‘Do you mind me asking… why gin_lane? Do you just really like gin?’ Most the time these days, I take the easy route – ‘Yeah, I just love me a Gordons mate’. But there is another answer.

Cue the pretension for this post. And cue Wikipedia:

Beer Street and Gin Lane (see above) are two prints issued in 1751 by English artist William Hogarth in support of what would become the Gin Act. Designed to be viewed alongside each other, they depict the evils of the consumption of gin as a contrast to the merits of drinking beer.

On the simplest level, Hogarth portrays the inhabitants of Beer Street as happy and healthy, nourished by the native English ale, and those who live in Gin Lane as destroyed by their addiction to the foreign spirit of gin.

For reasons that escape me now, I found the historic moral panic about ‘Mother’s Ruin’ amusing. All this angst over gin. Something my mother enjoys on a weeknight to relax. When we zoom out and look at the greater picture across a greater span of time, it seems silly, comical even. That 300 years ago we were panicking about a drink that we now sip in bougee bars.

I saw some similarities in the panic and indignation that people historically had towards gin in some of the moral panics that capture the public animus in the age of Twitter. I adopted the name as a moniker, as a hat-tip to the idea that most of the things we spend energy and angst worrying about now will be seen as amusing all too soon. I wanted to try and inject that sense of perspective into the whirl of fury and outrage that you can see every time you scroll Twitter. And that seems relevant now more than ever.

See full post here: