Drunk dialing defeated

By Craig Colbrook

Drunk dialing – making potentially embarrassing phone calls while under the influence – has become a popular phenomenon on college campuses, including Champaign-Urbana. While a cellular phone company is now offering a service to prevent drunk dialing, that service is only available in Australia, and some University students would be happy to see it stay there.

Virgin Mobile Australia’s “Dialing Under the Influence” program allows users to effectively “blacklist” a number they are afraid of drunk dialing. According to Virgin’s Web site, if the user dials “333” plus the number at the beginning of the night, they will be unable to call that number from his or her phone until 6 a.m. the next morning.

Virgin began this program in response to a survey they conducted that showed 95 percent of respondents drunk dialed, with 49 percent of them calling former or current partners, the Web site said.

While some University students recognize that this program could be useful to avoid embarrassment or relationship problems, they are still unwilling to give up the unique benefits of drunk dialing.

“I would be what I guess you’d call an expert on drunk dialing,” said Bobbi Bennett, sophomore in FAA. “Usually, just when I’m drunk, I want to talk to people, people I can’t find right away, because when you’re drunk you’re a little more emotional, you’re more willing to speak your mind.”

Drunk dials aren’t just fun for the dialer, though. Bryony McCormack, senior in LAS, said she has had recent and entertaining experiences receiving such calls.

“Yeah, I got about four calls just last night,” McCormack said. “I think it’s funny.”

Luckily, Bennett has been able to avoid trouble or embarrassment by strictly following a very simple rule.

“I don’t drunk-dial people who haven’t seen me naked, so the embarrassment factor is gone,” she said.

Not all students are that fortunate, though. Mike Psaras, junior in LAS, said drunk dialing can be particularly problematic for guys.

“Usually, you end up calling some girl you want to hook up with,” Psaras said. “It doesn’t work out so well because you’re drunk and slurring your speech and not making much sense.”

Even with these dangers, though, Psaras said he would be reluctant to utilize Virgin’s service.

“I wouldn’t get it,” he said. “You’d have to program it before you went out, and most people wouldn’t think of it. Plus, when you’re out and drunk, you’ll get really frustrated that your phone isn’t working.”

McCormack agreed, saying the service probably would not get much support on most college campuses.

Bennett, however, thought the service could be useful for the right people.

“That’s such a good idea, so you don’t dial ex-boyfriends,” she said. “I can see why that would be a really great program for some people.”

Part of the reason some students are ambivalent about the program is that the majority of their drunk dials are to “safer” people – close friends and family members who recognize the circumstances of the call.

“You call old friends from home and just (talk),” Psaras said. “When I get (drunk dials), I’m usually drunk too, so I like it.”

“I usually just drunk-dial my sisters and my father,” Bennett said. “But they all do it back to me, so it’s fine.”

Bennett agreed, though she noted that drunk dials are not always to the closest of friends.

“Usually it’s just friends,” McCormack said. “Still, it’s usually the people you talk to the least.”