Neknomination: Immature, pointless and senseless

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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.

10 Reasons Why Being The Youngest Sucks

I’m sure there are plenty of eldest and middle children out there who will lament their position in their familial hierarchy but I refuse to accept that anyone has it as tough as the misfortunate being who will forever be known as ‘the baby’, AKA: The Youngest.
Here are ten reasons why being the youngest sucks:

1. You may have been an accident

My siblings informed me constantly that I was unplanned, unlike themselves, whom Mammy and Daddy were only too happy to welcome into the world. When I got to the age of sixteen, I jokingly asked my mother if I had been planned (of course, I had expected her to lovingly reassure me that yes, of course I had been) only for her to reply with a sentence that still haunts my nightmares:

‘Oh good God no!’

Before you put my mother into the same league as the following:

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rest assured, she’s magnificent.

2. The lies that were fed to you by your siblings

I’ve already written a post on the constant fallacies thrust upon my naive and unsuspecting mind, but the best (or worst, depending on whether you’re sympathising with me or laughing at me) included the tale that I had been adopted from hardened criminals. As this tale became more sophisticated, the hardened criminals became Somalian Pirates and then evolved into a religious cult.

3. You were always ‘piggy’ in Piggy and the Middle

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4. You were the target of your siblings’ arbitrary rules

“You know Jane, if anyone under the age of eight eats chocolate, THEY EXPLODE.”

“Of course you’ve to sit in the middle on car trips, you’re the youngest.”

“The youngest automatically gets less toys kid. Sorry, them’s the rules.”

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5. You were sent to bed when cool stuff came on television

My brother loved wrestling, and so did I. The difference is that he was actually allowed to watch all of it when I was bungled off to bed the minute this guy came on:

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To be fair, he is terrifying.

6. By the time you became a teenager, your parents were savvy to the wily ways of an adolescent

“Hey Mam, I’m just going to stay at Mary’s.”

“Yes, but you’re also going to change out of the clothes you’re currently wearing into something more revealing, sneak out of Mary’s to that party at the house of that boy you like and drink beer. Or at least you think you are.”

“DAMMIT!”

7. Your achievements meant less because your older siblings beat you to the punch

This was my mother when my brother graduated:

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When I graduated:

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Not a single tear was shed that day:

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8. Your siblings eventually became protective

You might think that this must have felt nice. Maybe it was, except that when I got a boyfriend, they turned into this:

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9. Being a victim of your siblings’ cruel games

“Hey Jane, go fetch me a drink. I’ll time you.”

“Hey Jane, I bet you can’t clean my room in less than an hour.”

“Hey Jane, take a bite out of this to see if it’s cooked.”

“Hey Jane, let’s play hide and seek. You go hide, I’ll come find you.”
(They never came to find me.)

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10. Being constantly spoken down to because you’re the youngest

“Did you hear about the bomb blast in Kabul? *turns to me* that’s in Afghanistan, Jane.”

“Did you see they’re making a movie about Freddie Mercury? *turns to me* He was in a band called Queen Jane, before you were born.

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14 lies my older siblings told me

Many people propagate the myth that being the youngest in a family has many benefits. Well, I am here to dispel that particular fallacy.
I love my older brother and sister, but man did they fill my head with a lot of crap. Here are some of the best things they convinced me were most definitely true and should never be questioned:

1. That there were pirates living in a hole in my back garden.

2. That you could get very very drunk on apple juice.

3. That riding on a roller coaster would bring me to another dimension (thanks a lot, ‘Dungeons and Dragons’).

4. That I was adopted from two criminals who were now in jail but would no doubt want me back when they were released.

5. That Tom Jones is black.

6. That inside every apple was a worm.

7. That Roald Dahl’s ‘The Witches’ was a true story and I would inevitably be turned in to a mouse at some point in my life.

8. That my toys came alive when I left the room.

9. That wrestling was real and that The Undertaker was coming for me.

10. That having £100 made you a millionaire. Maths was not my strong-suit.

11. That the next door neighbour was a practicing witch with a giant cauldron who liked to cook children.

12. That the other next door neighbour was a convicted child-killer. Her weapon of choice was a ten inch serrated knife apparently.

13. That before I was born my parents used to bring my siblings on a biannual trip to Disneyland.

14. That the tooth fairy actually knocked more teeth out of your mouth when it visited because it’s greedy like that.

Picture: weheartit.com

Why being a guy would be great

I like being a lady. Okay, it’s debatable whether I can accurately be called a lady but I’m definitely a woman *looks at boobs* yep, definitely. Sometimes though, I would like the comfort that comes with all things male. Here’s why:

1. Guys can have all the beardy goodness that a beard brings

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I’m cold. I’m so cold that I’ve been writing this sentence for two days. Anything that could make me less cold right now would be great. A beard would just be lovely; but of course, I’d be captured by the first travelling circus and made kiss sexually-confused people. So count your blessings men, you have the option to grow a majestic face-blanket.

2. Guys can basically pee anywhere*

*Except on a roller coaster
I really hope you appreciate this one guys. I really do. There’s been many a time Jack and I have been enjoying a countryside drive when *boom* the bladder fairy decides to make a visit. (The bladder fairy is a real thing, with a wand and wings and a belt of Ocean Spray cranberry juice.)
When I am swaying from side to side and silently weeping at the lack of public toilets in Ireland, Jack will nonchalantly shrug. ‘Just go outside’, he will smugly suggest as I imagine life post-bladder explosion.
I can’t go outside. I just can’t. For us girls it involves careful positioning of clothing, perfect balance and worst of all…. SQUATTING. There is possibly nothing more shameful than squatting in a field with your bare ass being caressed by the cold breeze as you’re watched by inquisitive cows (this never happened to me. Ahem).

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3. Guys can get ready for the day ahead in three/four easy steps:
-Get up
-Shower (optional)
-Brush teeth
-Get dressed

In fact, guys could get ready for their own weddings this way. For us ladies, it’s different. Yes, some of us are pretty low maintenance but you could bet your bottom farthing that most of us spend quite a bit of time getting ready to face the world every morning; there’s shampooing, conditioning, blowdrying, straightening/curling, negotiating with mascara wands while making all manner of ridiculous facial expressions, etc.
You might say that this is unnecessary buuuuuuut…

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Tell that to Katy Perry

4. Guys don’t have periods

Most of the time, I’m a nice girl. But once a month, when my Aunt Mary (I gave it a friendly name in the hope I would welcome it more, it didn’t work) comes to visit, I turn homicidal. Anything with testicles within a 100 metre radius is in imminent danger of death by scissors kick. I turn into an emotional mess, crying at TV adverts and getting angry at toilet paper being hung in improper overhand fashion.

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Me, last time “Aunt Mary” visited

5. Ageing is an easier process for men

There are some hot female celebrities out there who are sma-hoking (Helen Mirren, call me) and who haven’t felt the need to Botox themselves within an inch of their lives. Most women fear ageing like men fear a swift kick in the nuts. I’m going to blame a combination of the media and all those freakin Real Housewives who look like extras from House of Wax. Some women are now resorting to face-lifts and Botox in THEIR TWENTIES.
And men? Well, it seems the older they get, the more desirable they become. Think of the most desirable of all the silver foxes, George Clooney. He still has women of all ages throwing themselves at him (probably literally). Then there’s Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Robert Downey Junior (is it hot in here?)
My point is that Jack has grey hairs on his head and he looks gorgeous. I will no doubt look like this:

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About us and why being young and in love is not so great

I’m Jane. He’s Jack. Are they our real names? Well, I’ll put it to you this way: does a beaver cheat when he’s playing poker? Erm, the answer is no. Beaver’s are widely renowned for their outstanding poker etiquette.

We’re not with the CIA. We’re not even all that interesting. We just both have jobs that require us to retain some semblance of dignity. So while I am not sharing my identity with you, I will share everything else with you (except my cheeseburger, get your own).

We met when I was sixteen years old. I actually kind of stole him from a close friend which probably puts me on a par with Stalin but it was more complicated than that. I’m not going to expand on that because it would require a deep and meaningful self-examination of my conscience, and it’s past 8.

He lived about 150 miles away which made the first two years very difficult. At that age, you should be out with your friends making terrible decisions that you will later regret. Instead, I was inside glued to my phone wondering why he hadn’t text back yet, who he was with, and how fresh-faced and talented that young actress Lindsay Lohan seemed. If you’re 16 years old and reading this, and you also happen to be in a relationship, there’s two possibilities: One: You’re me in the past. If this is the case, will you for the love of God get off your ass and do some exercise? At 26, your knees creak when you move. That’s not good. Also, when your friend ‘Paul’ challenges you to a drunken race down a mountain, decline. You end up shattering your ankle and it never heals properly.

The other possibility (which is probably more plausible) is that you’re not me in the past but you in the present. If that is the case, then here is my advice to you: relax. You’re only 16. I spent the remainder of my teenage years in a ball of stress because I convinced myself that the relationship was going to end and I would be in some Adele-like situation, oozing bitterness and anger over a failed relationship, except without the talent. I look back now and all I can think is ‘man, you were SIXTEEN. You should have been trading Pokemon cards with your friends.’ Can I do that now?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that I met Jack. I obviously love him if we’ve been together for ten years. But we both agree that we got far too serious far too young. After ten years, our conversations usually revolve around whether the rubbish is being collected on Wednesday or Thursday or whether we should switch back to whole-fat milk  because *someone* is getting  little tubby around the middle. There’s nothing wrong with that really. Actually, I prefer the stability of this to the absolute horror that was the first year of our relationship (more on that later).

In conclusion, being young and in a relationship is fun if you don’t take it so seriously. But what’s the one thing you take more seriously than anything else when you’re a teenager? Not school or social responsibility, oh no, but LOVE. And if you’ve ever heard of Patsy Cline, you’ll know that love can make you pretty crazy. Prett-ay, prett-ay, prett-ay crazy. (Little Larry David reference for you there.) So just keep calm and be prepared to rant to the next generation about how crap their music is and how inappropriate their clothing is. Focus on you. And I should probably add….school. They made me say it, I swear.