The game recognized as Neknominate is now one of the most trending online crazes making headlines around the world. What started as a woman stripping in a supermarket and downing a drink, quickly escalated into a competitive game that involves guzzling large quantities of extreme cocktails. The game is thought to have originated in Australia, but through the power of social media it’s spread across the world. People are filming themselves downing — or “neking” — a drink and then nominating a friend to outshine them and share the video on social media.
There’s no limit to the game. With each new nomination comes a more dangerous challenge and an increased risk to the individuals health. Challenges have included chugging whole bottles of liquor in strange locations or mixing excessive amounts of alcohol and unusual things such as a dead mouse, insects, or goldfish. One nomination was even completed by drinking an entire bottle of liquor out of a toilet bowl.
What began as friendly competition has quickly turned deadly. There have been at least five deaths of men under the age of 30 that have been linked to this lethal drinking game. I believe the role of peer pressure is a major factor in the evolution of this social media trend. Teens and young people are the most susceptible to being pressured into doing something. If the person who has been nominated doesn’tcomplete the challenge, they’re often ridiculed and faced with cyberbullying.
Young people drinking alcohol is often a recipe for disaster, but Neknominate is different. It’s allowed the peer pressures associated with drinking to reach a global scale. Teens are no longer just testing who can drink the most within their friend group; they’re now comparing themselves to other people around the world. What bothers me most about this trend is that this game has replaced recklessness within friend groups with a false sense of reality because of social media and the desire for “likes”.
However, there is a silver lining. A South African man decided to create something positive out of this global phenomenon. Rather than drinking a bottle of liquor in 60-seconds, Mr. Lindeque gave a homeless man a sandwich, a Coke, and a chocolate bar, and then challenged his friends and others to follow his lead and help reduce poverty and hunger. He posted his neknomination with a comment that read, “Downing a can of Castle Light is easy… imagine if we all harnessed the power of social media to make a real difference in people’s lives. #OnlyGoodThings”.