By Michelle Silver
Neknominate is the latest drinking game that’s sweeping social media. The goal is to outdo the person who nominated you in a drinking related challenge and then continue the chain by nominating a few other friends. Participants have somebody record themselves completing the challenge and post it to various social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube. Challenges range from chugging a beer as quickly as possible to downing two pints of straight liquor. By completing alcohol related challenges in under a minute or two, the effect the alcohol has on the individual is delayed and exacerbated since it hits them all at once. Most commonly individuals experience severely impaired judgment and an inability to recognize and react to danger, only after consumption is completed. The “game,” which began in Australia, has swept across the world and is now quite popular in the U.S. Not surprisingly, Neknominate has turned deadly and already claimed the lives of five young men in the U.K.
The question then becomes who should be held responsible for the deaths of the Neknominate victims. Is it the fault of the victims for completing the challenge, the people who nominated them, or does the blame fall more on social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube that allow the posting of these videos? Should schools and parents be held accountable for the lack of resilience young people exercise these days with regards to peer pressure? This complex question unfortunately has no simple answer, which is part of the reason why the game is still taking place.
The game, which I initially thought was out of reach for graduate students like myself, has now become a frequent piece of “news” that pops up on my own Facebook timeline. Challenges have spread to people that I know and the worrisome thought of what I would do if I was “neknominated” has crossed my mind, since I am certainly not a supporter of the deadly game. Despite the threat of being bullied and tormented on various forms of social media for not completing the challenge, I think what I would personally do is not acknowledge the nomination and ignore it as much as possible. I do realize that this might not be easy or possible for everybody, which is why other people have tried faking the challenge with water if they are under pressure to complete the nomination even though they don’t want to.
One thing is for certain, that social media has taught us how quickly information and movements like Neknominate can become viral and spread all around the world. In response to the game, two Toronto teens have shifted the nomination drinking game into a charity campaign. Instead of nominating somebody to compete in a drinking challenge, you nominate somebody to “#feedthedeed” by spreading awareness about a charity organization of your choice. This is a great example of how to flip a negative and deadly game into something positive. Hopefully more people will respond to Neknominate challenges with #feedthedeed instead of putting their own lives and others in danger.
For more about Neknominate visit: http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/18/world/europe/neknominate-drinking-game/