Caffeine-Free Liberty

benbuie | 2/20/13

It is now 1:07 am and I’m still wide awake. I laid in bed for two hours and then decided I couldn’t do it anymore. For the first hour I was thinking about StartupCU tomorrow and about potential pivots for HappyFreebie. I wasn’t surprised to be awake because it can take me up to a hour to sleep if I’m excited about a startup idea or a project, but most of the time my head hits the pillow and I’m gone.

It is unusual for me, however, to lay awake for more than an hour. So what was different about tonight? Was it something I ate? I did have a piece of chocolate cake, but that has never kept me awake in the past. Oh dang, I thought, I had a root beer for lunch!

I forget that Barq’s has caffeine, probably because where I grew up it doesn’t. Before today, I don’t remember the last time I drank caffeine; I’d guess it has been more than 7 years. I haven’t missed it either. I have enough energy to do everything and I save a lot of money by not needing a fix twice a day.

So, with nothing else to do but think and write, I had two thoughts I’d like to share, (1) how life is better when liberated from caffeine, and (2) how the decisions of society effect everyone, not just those who are given the liberty.

First, we all need a break from caffeine. When I was about 18 years old I would drink Mountain Dew like it was water. As a result, I suffered from insomnia and was exhausted every day. One day I decided to quit and, aside from the massive headache for a couple days, my sleep and daily energy has been great ever since.

Caffeine claims to make people more efficient during the day, but leaves them awake at night. Thank goodness for sleeping pills, right? Maybe we should all just take 6 months off. Do it and I promise you’ll sleep a lot better at night and have more energy during the day.

Second, a word about society’s choices. I can’t sleep tonight not only because I forgot that some root beer is caffeinated, but also because I live in a culture of caffeine. It is true, there are coffee shops on every corner, coffee pots in every office, and coffee mugs in almost every hand; there are caffeinated hot drinks and caffeinated cold drinks, caffeinated granola bars and caffeinated candy bars. Trying to avoid it is a challenge, hence my lack of sleep tonight, but even though I don’t like it, I don’t want it, and I don’t need it, I can’t help but be affected by it.

I’ve heard the claim in the past that we as a society shouldn’t care about other peoples choices. They say that some choices only affect the individual. That is a fallacy. I’ve heard this argument about tobacco, marijuana, pornography, and just about every other vice that people want the liberty of which to partake. The truth is that we all suffer the negative externalities of society’s choices. In 2010, a study found that over half of the children in the US show signs of tobacco in their blood from second hand smoke (CNN). I hope that in 10 years the same is not true of marijuana.

In addition, we lament the inequality of women in the workplace and yet ignore how the media, Hollywood, and pornography producers portray them. Yes, sex sells, but it also dimeans, belittles, and objectifies. Changing the way women are portrayed would do more to help equality than all the outrage in the world combined.

So, I guess I’ll end with a question. Is liberty being free of addiction or is it being free to be addicted?

Well, I’m feeling pretty tired now, I guess I’ll try to get some sleep. I hope I don’t have this problem again for a while. If you decide to take the liberty to take a break from caffeine because of this post, let me know. That would make my long night worth it. :)


About the Author

Ben currently works as a contract web developer and business consultant in Boulder, Colorado.

His passion for entrepreneurship led him to study business and learn to code. Although he never anticipated working on the web, Ben has spent the past 9 years learning everything he could about building and operating websites and web assets.

When not at work, Ben spends a lot of his time with family. He is married to a “beautiful” woman and they are raising 4 energetic boys. In his spare time he loves keeping up with technology, playing guitar, eating Sweet Cow ice cream, and painting (although he has very little time for painting these days). Other than that, Ben is a supporter of freedom and liberty, a fluent speaker of Russian, and he tries to be a humble follower of Jesus.

Read more about Ben.