Company. “Much better at home”: who are these young people who abandon the party for their cocoon

“I really like staying at home. When I go out with friends at night, all I want to do is go home. » Partying has never been her thing for 20-year-old Jeanne. The BTS health and society student clearly prefers “movies and small treatments at home” to an overnight trip. And she’s not the only one.

Far from the generation Sex, drugs and rock and roll from the 90s or those who grew up with the movie Project X, published in 2012, today’s young people seem to like going out less and less, and even less to traditional party venues. This is what the recent “U Going Out” survey, carried out by the Keep Hush platform, shows: clubbing culture is less popular among Generation Z, these young people born between 1997 and 2010. And this is not the closure of 2,800 clubs in France since the 1980s – according to figures from the Union of Hotel Industries and Trades – which will tell us the opposite.

The essayist Vincent Cocquebert sees this youth as “a kind of magnifying mirror of a social spirit of the time that concerns us all”: the era of the cocoon. “Nowadays, people seek security, togetherness, well-being and comfort. They have a relationship with risk that is not what is observed at the end of the 20th century, where risk-taking was valued,” analyzes the author of The cocoon civilization (Arkhé Editions).

Generation dominant

Nightlife is full of risks for 25-year-old Lisa. “Being with a lot of people I potentially don’t know, in a place where anything can happen, and not automatically knowing how I’m going to get back, quickly makes me anxious,” she said. she confesses.

The young production director has made her Friday nights a respite from the festive enthusiasm that opens the weekend: “I take the opportunity to prepare a more elaborate dish than other days. During the day I thought about the movie she was going to see, the activity she was going to do…” she says, not without emotion.

But the party does not disappear. There is progress towards private and, above all, highly regulated spheres. “Among young people there is a kind of movement to party more at home, and sociology explains this mainly by a concern for control. Control the atmosphere, the music, who comes to the evening… so as not to face in a certain way the unknown, the strangeness of the world,” explains Maxime Duviau, a sociologist specialized in youth at the University of Pau.

And self-control, of one’s own image, is no exception. In fact, some young people have been chilled in recent years by the phenomenon of “shaming”, these compromising videos taken on the dance floor (or next to the toilet) and then circulated on the Internet.

Others also prefer to maintain the impeccably controlled image they give of themselves on social networks, especially in the field of seduction, formerly the prerogative of parties and discos. “For these young people, going out is not something that serves their identity, themselves,” adds the sociologist, who also specifies that youth is “plural,” and some young people still regularly frequent these places.

Alcohol and drug consumption is decreasing

And inevitably, in this equation of fear of risk and desire for control, drug and alcohol use no longer really has its place. According to the latest survey by the French Office against Drugs and Addictive Tendencies, adolescents are abandoning alcohol and cannabis. Today, for example, 5% of high school students regularly consume alcohol, up from 21% in 2010.

Particularly in doubt? The prevention campaigns in which Generation Z has been immersed, but also the “healthy” trend, now well anchored in social networks. “There is a cult of health that also exists among young people: they do more sports, they go to the gym, they want a healthy body,” says Vincent Cocquebert. It no longer corresponds to a dissolute life where we drink a lot and take drugs. »

Inflation and precariousness

This domestic withdrawal also has to do with the virtual. Why want to go out when you can meet people, work, have fun and even dine at a restaurant from your cocoon? But for Maxime Duviau it is above all about a “greater precariousness of youth.” Evenings in clubs or bars are becoming, in addition to inflation, increasingly inaccessible for these young people. “And, therefore, more accessories,” supports the researcher.

In any case, that is the feeling that Hugo, 26 years old, had. “It was a cost on top of rent, healthcare costs, food, etc.” It was already a headache! In a club you had to be clean to be accepted by the goalkeepers, make an effort…”, the literary high school student bitterly remembers. Now at night, Hugo relaxes in a different way, through videos, board games and Netflix, above all. “Sometimes we are much better at home,” she says.

What should we then think of this movement inward? “It becomes problematic when this withdrawal is suffered,” believes the sociologist. But aren’t the young people who wanted it still missing out on the benefits of celebrating? “Partying means going beyond your little self. It is a place of communion with others, where we extract ourselves from our original environment. In the party there is lightness and beauty,” recalls Jérémie Peltier, author of The party is over ? (L’Observatoire editions), in an interview for the ADN media. A lightness far from being “incidental” in these turbulent times.

Is Covid to blame?

“Before it was a techno club every weekend,” recalls Sonia, 26, without much nostalgia. Then Covid happened. “Actually, I thought I loved it, but it was a source of enormous anxiety: the crowd, the people, especially the men. I did not realize. Only after the lockdowns did my anxieties come true,” the philosophy student continues. Her latest news has also overcome her appetite for partying (on-the-fly injections, chemical submission, etc.): “Now, a club is hostile to me. »

In reality, the younger generations did not wait for the pandemic to hide in their bubble. The phenomenon was born shortly before. But it is possible that the confinements have reinforced it and, above all, have relieved the most introverted people of their guilt. This is the case of Sonia. “Before I could force myself to go out, because it was an order: to get some fresh air, to see people… But later I had much less scruples about locking myself at home, where it “never” gets boring,” slips the former party girl, who now only gambles at night in small groups and in well-known places, like many of these young people.

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