There is a craze currently sweeping social media in Ireland at the moment; a craze so pointless and immature that it’s paining me to write about it, but I feel it’s necessary. This craze is called Neknomination.
Neknomination began in Australia, but found its way to our shores through the sharing on social media of the many Irish emigrants over there with their friends back home. It involves the recording of oneself “necking” (which basically means drinking something as quickly as possible) a pint (and sometimes more) of something alcoholic. You then upload the recording to Facebook, where you nominate two more people who then must complete the challenge within twenty four hours. Finally, you bask in your own adultivity and spontaneity and await all the invitations to cool parties, cause everyone knows what a crazy b**tard you are.
You might think that this actually sounds like it might just be harmless fun. We’ve all had those nights out where we’ve invariably joined in a group of rowdy spectators chanting “chug” to some inebriated beer-bellied good-time guy at a random college house party. You might think I’m being the idiomatic “wet blanket”. If someone chooses to partake in this fad, can’t I just ignore it? What harm does it do me personally? The thing is, it’s not as simply dismissed as that. There have been two reported deaths in Ireland because of this craze. People are feeling the need to “one-up” each other, by chugging things like full bottles of Jaggermesiter and (gag alert) their own faeces.
It has flooded my newsfeed like some kind of medieval plague. It is everywhere. I haven’t actually watched many of them (except the first few due to my unbridled curiosity). When something becomes this much of a trend (remember planking? *collective shudder*), it inevitably finds itself being practiced by many different strands of society: old, young, male, female, etc. And what group of people becomes most sensitive and susceptible to fads and trends than teenagers?
Let’s face it, being a teenager is hard. Yes, you have a small group who like to deviate away from the trend-setters but the majority of teenagers like to follow the crowd. Understandably, they want to fit in. They want to be seen as cool, fun and “with-it” (aside: why am I sounding increasingly more and more like my grandmother?). If you add the pressures of social media to the mix, being a teenager becomes a minefield of peer pressure and bad decisions.
I was a teenager once (yes, really) and I have to say: I was an idiot. Again, I want to reiterate that I’m not saying all teenagers are idiots. I chose to teach them because I know how articulate, wise and perceptive they can be. What I’m saying is, teenagers can often make idiotic decisions (just like adults); I know I did. This Neknomination ridiculousness is exactly the sort of crap I would have done as a teen. Last year, I heard of the incredibly silly fad of “gallon-smashing” (going into a supermarket, smashing gallons of milk and skidding down a supermarket aisle on it…yep, it is that stupid). While I don’t condone this pointless prank, I do concede that it isn’t too far off the sort of silliness I partook in back in the day. And that’s my point, if there’s a silly fad about, many teenagers are usually lining up to take part in it regardless of the consequences.
So if I was equally as irresponsible, what’s my problem with neknomination? What does it matter to me whether teens (or anyone) decide to record themselves necking pints on Facebook? My problem is that first of all, Facebook didn’t exist in my day. I might have done some stupid stuff, but at least there’s no record of it. It didn’t have the potential to go viral and be viewed by millions of people. People, not just teenagers, are putting themselves in very vulnerable positions. Of course, adults are well aware of this and are old enough to decide for themselves if they want videos of them chugging drinks on the Internet, and that’s their business (and it hasn’t changed my opinion of my friends, it’s the fad itself I have the issue with). Many teenagers, on the other hand, are not old enough or mature enough to make wise, informed decisions. We all have regrets from our teenage years but because of the absence of social media, we don’t have to live with them for too long.
Besides the fact that neknominations are a dangerous fad, they are also pointless. What’s the attraction to recording yourself downing a pint of spirits/beer/wine and sharing it online? What good can come of it? Where’s the fun in it? Surely we take part in things like this because something productive or at least fun can come out of it. This is just silly, immature and pointless. The common counter-argument from alcohol chugging participants is that detractors like me are “buzz killers” or “kill-joys”. Erm, no. I can have fun, but to me uploading a video of myself partaking in some frat-party douchery to impress strangers over the Internet is hardly my idea of it. I’m not trying to sound sanctimonious (trust me, I’m hardly one to pontificate) but senseless rubbish like this irritates me. I actually started writing this a few days ago, before the reported deaths, and I had said “someone, somewhere is going to die as a result of this. I say that without any sense of melodrama or hyperbole.” Unfortunately, it looks like I was right.
If the reports are true, and two people here in Ireland have died as a result of this ridiculous craze, then that should say it all. I’m not saying we need to go overboard (ala the satirical episode with the bear patrol in the Simpsons) and become melodramatic about the situation. It’s not bird flu or Justin Bieber, it hasn’t caused widespread damage. What I would ask the young people who feel obliged to partake in it is to think: would you like to see the video in ten years? Would you like others to see it in ten years? At best, you’ll look stupid, at worst, you’ll hurt yourself. Trust me, it’s about as productive as attempting to teach a Kardashian lessons in subtlety (I’m using analogies that the kids will understand).
Every so often, fads like this come along. And like The Macarena and the Cha-Cha Slide, they’ll disappear (except those were fun, damn it). The difference is, this one is potentially dangerous, immature and pointless. Put down that pint of vodka and (seriously, what were you THINKING?) and go be SENSIBLE.