Social Media Shames College Students Into Having a Less Naked Spring Break

Add Spring Break to the growing tally of consequence-free opportunities for public exhibitionism that social media is ruining. The New York Times, reporting from formerly debauched Key West, says that these self-important spring breakers are more aware than ever of the mighty Facebook monster's insatiable appetite for candid photos of illicit activity, and so are restricting their behavior accordingly.

In their effort to not become YouTube famous for passing out in a public place and having strangers wipe stuff on them, spring breakers are trying very hard not to get "sloppy" drunk while still somehow enjoying themselves. A University of Connecticut student, for instance, assured the Times that she and her cadre of friends were being "very, very reserved" because, as one of her lame friends added, people who get really drunk "regret it later." While some might call such an attitude "discreet" or "cautious," others, most notably Margaret Donnelly, the bartender at a fine Key West establishment called Tattoos and Scars, deem it "prudish." Added Donnelly, "They [the prudish college students] are so afraid everyone is going to take their picture and put it online. Ten years ago people were doing filthy, filthy things, but it wasn't posted on Facebook."

Filthy, filthy things like wet t-shirt contests, which used to spring up in town as frequently as Waffle Houses open in the southeastern United States. Now, laments Donnelly, those days of uninhibited disrobing are a relic of a more innocent age, an age when college students would expose themselves wantonly to strangers and not even care that the overpriced green key lime pie they were eating at 4 am was a total rip-off because real key lime pie is yellow.

The Times attributes the increased awareness of Key West spring breakers to the fact that the Florida destination, owing to the more affluent students it attracts, has achieved a greater level of respectability over the years. Those looking for a really wild time will head to Spring Break mainstays outside the country like Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic or trusty old Cancun, but for those more reserved and well-heeled Northeasterners who'd rather not risk a kidnapping, Key West remains the safe choice, even if going there means always remembering that, someday far in the future, they'll need to explain any indiscreet Facebook photos to potential employers. As one 26-years-young and recent Auburn University graduate affirms about employers' detective work, "[Facebook is] the first thing they check," which, when you think about it, is sort of a bummer because it doesn't seem fair that the prospect of future employment — or any other yet-to-materialize realities — should stop anyone, even those privileged enough to go on a week-long, all-expense-paid bender on a balmy beach, from enjoying themselves.

Spring Break Gets Tamer as World Watches Online [NY Times]