Ket, cans and rollies

The holy trinity of British youth culture

11th July 2018

Youth culture in Britain is rich in history and grand in style. As the grips of parents loosen on the lives of their teens, alcohol-fuelled outings begin to monopolise social gatherings. An early taste of the forbidden nectar of adulthood is much sought after by young people.

Getting absolutely smashed at the weekend has always been a favourite hobby of time-rich fledgelings but, with the advent of social media, the narcissistic posts of braggadocios are now plastered on the net for all to see. People love nothing more than posting images of expensive cocktails and shouting about how “crazy” their night was (even though it probably wasn’t that crazy, if we’re honest).

But, what about the people who couldn’t care less about impressing their friends or Johnny’s super rad party, this Friday? Well, they rebel through satire.

Rollies are addictive, and cans are fucking tasty and cheap

Humans of The Sesh is a Facebook page created by two lads from Ireland, who go by the names Brown Sauce and Green Feen. With almost 600,000 likes, it parodies the culture of the sesh — an “umbrella term that gives people a sense of belonging to something bigger than just a few cans”, as Brown puts it. It’s a satirical take on the formalised pages that attempt something arty, combined with drink-and-drug-driven takes of debauchery. Imagine Humans of New York talking to your loosest childhood mate. That’s Humans of the Sesh.

Cans and rollies rule the conversation and the jokes on the page. Most people can’t afford expensive beer and cigarettes, so the cheaper stuff has to do. This is the magic of Humans of The Sesh. They’re not trying to sell you a glorified image. They’re more of a reflection of youth culture in the ‘10s than an influencer.

Sauce explains: “We all go on the lash. It’s a part of human nature. It’s even more a part of Irish culture. We write and post about what we come from and know, ourselves. Kids probably do attempt to emulate it, but that’s the nature of young people.”

In the same breath, he says that they haven’t written anything worth emulating for a while. But, you might ask, what makes cans and rollies — of all vices — so damn popular among kids, today? Sauce reckons he knows: “Rollies are addictive, and cans are fucking tasty and cheap. But, to be honest, I think people drink less, these days.” He may have a point. Some young’uns may not want to hear this, but they’re the least fender-bender-obsessed generation for a while.

Search any Vice article on British youths and you’ll be baffled by the supposed drug culture surrounding the whippersnappers. Drugs, drugs, drugs. That’s all they seem to want. But, these pieces are misrepresentative. Findings from the 2016/17 Crime Survey for England and Wales show only 19.2% of adults aged 16-24 took some kind of drug last year. In 1996, the figure was about 30%. Young people are less interested in the sesh than ever.

However, Ketamine — a class B drug and animal sedative, infamously known as “horse tranquilliser” but mostly used on cats — is one drug that isn’t seeing a decrease in use. According to the Crime Survey, an estimated 207,000 people aged 16-24 took ketamine last year — a dramatic increase from 2006/7, when the figure was 137,000. With ketamine, the holy trinity of youth party culture is complete. Ket, cans and rollies.

We often break the echo chamber that is the internet and this causes a lot of heated debate in the comments

Rebellion against older generations tends to be the politics of the youth, whether it’s punk rockers screaming themselves to liberation or the Parkland activists advocating for gun control. On 25 May, Ireland voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment and legalise abortion. Despite their less-than-serious surface image, Humans of The Sesh promoted Repeal the Eighth for some time.

Although youth culture tends to dictate more liberal views, Sauce and Feen have received backlash for being politically outspoken. Sauce explains: “People come to the page for jokes about cans. We often break the echo chamber that is the internet and this causes a lot of heated debate in the comments. There’s been a huge reaction. I often wonder if it’s worth throwing the stick in the spokes of the bike.”

With so many people sharing differing opinions on the web, raising awareness for a cause you believe in is often an unpopular move. Reflecting on the relative success of Humans of The Sesh, Sauce offers his insight on using social media to affect political change.

“The internet rewards pages for having very emotive and reactionary statements,” he says. “They get more likes and attention that fill you with a false sense of success while, ultimately, you probably alienate more people than you end up informing.

We’re grappling with how we can promote what we believe in without alienating people

“We’re grappling with how we can promote what we believe in without alienating people. There will always be assholes on the internet, but that shouldn’t stop us — and never has stopped us — from trying to use the page for good causes.”

Still, Brown says that their ambitions for the page remain very humble.

“It’s the same as it was when we started. We just want to have a light. It’s working out grand. We played Electric Picnic, this summer. We were literally paid to get fluted in a field for the weekend.”

Humans of The Sesh is a kind of counterculture to the bland, boring way of partying. It’s not about being classy and smart, or showing off to your friends. It’s about doing whatever you want, having a good time and being applauded for the dumb mistakes you make while steamed off your head.

Much like cans and rollies, Humans of The Sesh’s popularity can be attributed to three things: it’s cheap, it’s addictive and it’s certainly fucking tasty.

11th July 2018