From reading updates from friends and family to watching cute cat videos, Americans spend on average over 3 hours a day on social media. And that’s why a dangerous new meme is causing such a stir.
The drinking game “NekNominate” is sweeping Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and other social media outlets throughout Australia, the U.K., and North America.
The game starts when one person takes videos or pictures of themselves downing a large amount of alcohol—usually while doing a wild stunt—and posts the images on social media. The person then “nominates” friends to top their “necking,” post their own images, and in turn nominate more people.
With each round, the antics—and the amount of alcohol consumed—escalate. Stunts from NekNominators range from stupid to just plain gross, such as drinking alcohol out of a toilet or stripping down in public while chugging a beer. In one video, a man adds a dead mouse to his alcoholic smoothie.
Extreme Binge Drinking, Drunk Driving, and Other Idiocy
But some of the videos show behaviors that are outright dangerous. One man is seen skateboarding on a highway toward oncoming traffic while gulping from a funnel. Drinking while driving is also popular. And even without the dangerous pranks, NekNominators often down considerable quantities of hard alcohol very quickly.
Stupid drinking games are nothing new. But the dynamics of social media make the NekNominate fad particularly concerning. It doesn’t take long for popular memes to spread rapidly and across large geographical areas. NekNominators often name a handful of friends in their video, or with a few clicks, they can tag and nominate dozens of people. And the desire to rack up likes, comments, and retweets may spur some participants to think up wilder and more dangerous ways to complete their nomination.
Appealing to Kids
The game also appeals to social media users who are too young to drink legally. In a recent CNN story, a father described how his young son was nominated. The boy chugged a bootful of water but told his friends he was drinking vodka. The boy’s response illustrates the peer pressure some may feel to participate—those who are nominated but fail to join in face being ridiculed on social media for everyone to see.
Officials in the U.K. have tied five deaths to the game, and some suggest Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter should be held responsible for taking down the videos. Social sites have disclaimers that allow them to remove posts that are reported to show illegal or dangerous activity, like many of the NekNominate images. Others have argued that NekNominate is just a technology-age twist on old drinking games.
What do you think?