As Ted Mosby reminds us in “How I Met your Mother,” nothing good ever happens after 2 a.m. This is exactly what ran through my head as I watched my best friend (who I will refer to as Carl) run through his backyard and outside the barriers of his dog’s electric fence wearing a shock collar at 2:17 a.m. Believe it or not, there was no alcohol or other drugs involved in this action, just a bet from my friends and me.

I have seen a lot of stupid things in my life, but this was probably one of the stupidest.  Carl is not a dumb guy — in fact, he boasts a pretty good GPA at a pretty prestigious college.  However, just because he gets a good education does not mean he is prone to making the best decisions. Last summer, it was Carl who decided to touch the electric chicken fence in another friend’s backyard, only to receive a shock that put him on his butt.

As Carl ran full speed into the distance, his figure slowly faded into the dark shadows of the pine trees marking the end of the electric fence’s perimeter. Before we knew it, he was out of sight. Only seconds passed until we heard a very loud yelp, followed by a string of obscene words. Then, a blurred figure sprinted right back towards the patio we were all watching from.  Carl had received a good amount of volts from the collar around his neck, and we laughed.

After Carl explained how painful the shocks were from the collar, I started thinking about a couple things. First, why the heck would we put one of these torture devices around our pets? If it hurt a human, it surely hurts a dog. Second, how can a kid willing to wear a shock collar for a bet ever make decisions pertaining to the rest of his life? Don’t get me wrong, I love Carl like a brother, but sometimes he just does dumb things. And he’s not the only one who does it. It’s all of my friends. And myself. How can we — as 20-year-olds — possibly be making the right decisions for our future?

College is supposed to be the time we start preparing for our careers and, essentially, the rest of our lives. We study in a major that will hopefully get us a job. We intern for companies that we hope to one day work for.

Yet, there are other decisions we make that will affect our future that we never give a second thought to. For example, we make friends who will be our groomsmen or bridesmaids at our wedding. We buy pets that we may be responsible for until our mid to late 30s. And we get into the habit of eating foods that one day our metabolisms might not be able to handle.

Decisions are being thrown at us left and right, yet we are still running through electric fences with shock collars on. There is obviously a lot to be worried about, and the decisions we make today might make lives tougher or easier in the future. I guess the only thing we can really do is to try our best not to be dumb, and cross our fingers that all these decisions we make as uninformed 20-year-olds leads us to an okay place further down the line.

Anderson de Andrade is a sophomore in the College. The Side Effect appears every other Wednesday on

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