I’m sure you’ve all seen the videos, or perhaps know someone who has completed a nomination, let alone been nominated yourself. The online drinking game supposedly started out in Australia as a competition of who can have a pint doing the craziest or coolest things – drinking on a surfboard on Aussie waves, having a pint while riding a bike without steering, drinking beer from a shoe – whatever takes your fancy. This all seemed rather amusing at the beginning. The Neknomination would be videoed, posted onto a social media website such as Facebook, and then the drinker would nominate a friend to ‘neck’ a drink better than they had. But as more and more people were nominated and challenged to one-up the drinkers before them, the videos got dangerous, disgusting and, for a couple of people, deadly.
And it got crazy popular, crazy quick. With social media already being heavily influential, and videos such as those on YouTube having the ability to quickly spread like high school gossip, it was only a matter of time before this game went viral. It also then went from nominating just one friend to nominating two or three, so soon enough the numbers began to snowball and are still increasing. And whilst it does just seem rather entertaining to challenge your mates to a dirty pint and laugh hysterically at their reactions, whilst capturing it on film for a lifetime of future giggles, it does have its downsides.Some have argued that the pressure put on the people involved could constitute as a form of online bullying, as those nominated risk losing face among their peers if they do not conform to the dare. Then, being both fuelled by our already unhealthy drinking culture and independently reinforcing it, the results of this ‘game’ in the UK have already been seen to be scarily influential and harmful to health. Stephen Brooks, Isaac Richardson and Bradley Eames have all died within the past month from downing pints of spirits, along with a few more from downing other lethal concoctions, and authorities predict the damage is likely to increase. On top of this, lawyers have warned that nominating someone could result in a manslaughter charge if something goes wrong, putting the risks perhaps much higher than people realise. For something that is supposed to be just a bit of fun, it might not really be worth it.
But the one good thing about Neknominations is the faith it restores in the intelligence of todays young rapscallions; we’re not a susceptible to social pressure as one might think. Though some rare few have gone off drinking beer from toilets or downing bleach, the majority have not tried excessively to outdo other drinkers, but have had fun getting involved. And for those who didn’t want to partake, it has sparked a widespread debate about the nature of our drinking culture, giving people the chance to voice their opinions on the matter and make statements against irresponsible drinking. Others have even formed parody ‘trends’ such as the RAKNominate, where you have to post a video of a Random Act of Kindness and nominate a friend to do the same, along with the truly inspired Nicknominate, where you are nominated to find and post a picture of Nicolas Cage in a certain mood, time or place. At least our generation has a sense of humour. For the most part, Neknominate could have had a much worse set of results then it did. Though saying that, in no way are drinking deaths acceptable, the fact that they settled at single digits, despite the thousands of Brits taking part, means we’re not as dumb as we look.
But there’s no shame in getting involved. It’s fun! Being part of such a huge social phenomenon is exciting. We may not go down in history, but we get to have a permanent online record that we took part in something alongside millions of others around the globe. You could even argue that the idea has brought people together, albeit in a rather unconventional and highly humorous way. Now, the word sensible doesn’t spark excitement in the hearts of most students but as mum might say: sensible equal’s fun! You get the point. Stupid leads to A&E. So have fun kids. Just not too much fun.