NekNomihate (originally for T'Hud Magazine)

by - Sunday, April 27, 2014

image taken from The Independent

The birds were tweeting, next door weren't rowing for once and as I woke up and stretched luxuriously in my bed, I was ready to engage #lazysunday. That delicious day of the week where I can sack off uni work, catch up with my Hollyoaks omnibus and force my boyfriend into the kitchen to make the Sunday roast.

Naturally, my hangover free Sundays normally start with a casual look down my Facebook feed from the night before to see who was having the most 'mad fer it' night (*code:not actually having that much fun at all because they were too busy instagramming it). I noticed a video from what looked like a house party. Nothing new there. Idly clicking on said video, I found myself watching a video of one of my fb friends downing a dirty pint of vodka, gravy granules and Johnson's baby lotion, before 'inviting' friends to do the same between noisy gags and 'I'm enjoying this really' grimaces. Said video had 41 likes. Continuing down my feed, I was treated to concoctions of vomit, wkd, and various condiments, all thrown down the hatch in the name of banter. What the fuck, I asked myself, is going on?

That ladies and gentlemen, was my not so gentle introduction to the wild, wild world of neknomination. For those of you not in the know i.e. the lucky ones with something better to do, the premise is simple: film yourself downing a drink, normally of the dirty pint variety, and tag friends to do the same and post their own video within 24 hours. Bonus points if you do it with something disgusting, super quickly or whilst performing an act of LOL-worthy randomness.  A simple fad I hear you cry! Uni students having a laugh! Well congratulations to you on your small IQ if you genuinely believe that, but I'm afraid I'm about to kill your buzz.

Neknomination has killed people. People like you and me. Dead. Still funny yeah? Sure, we all know our own limits and plenty of us will be downing drinks without consequence until we're off to collect our pensions, but there is no denying the news that across the country students have lost their lives drinking ridiculous amounts or committing dangerous drinking stunts just to save face on social media. And the numbers are rising. Their poor parents left to pick up the pieces for the most petty of reasons, a ridiculous Web 2.0 joke gone far too wrong. Died in a car crash? Horrifically tragic and a complete waste, but something parents can learn to come to terms with. Died because of a childish game of 'Dares' turned Facebook craze? I wouldn't want to be the one to explain that to my friends family.

We all know the feeling- a trend is going round and nobody wants to be the odd one out. It's a tale as old as being the only kid in the playground with Yu Gi Oh cards when everyone was playing Pokemon (cheers mum). Eating school dinners when all the cool kids take pack lunches. Or having a best up blackberry when all the iPhone users are feverishly sending snapchats. Nobody.Likes.Feeling.Left.Out. And it's hardly a news flash that drinking and peer pressure go together like well, JD and coke. But is peer pressuring people to drink large amounts with the conditions of 24 hours to do it in really the way forward? Does that really make us the cool kid? Or does it just make us the person who has to validate their own stupid actions by convincing others to follow them?

I know what you're screaming whilst you're reading this. 'YOU CAN ALWAYS OPT OUT'. And you're right. You can. But the sad truth of the matter is that the majority of my Facebook feed is people of university level intelligence, people who I know would never consider themselves bullies or even reckless drinkers, all engaging in this game because they're too afraid to miss out. Studies have proven that FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is a popular phenomenon amongst millennials, prompting them to engage in social activities, crazes and overuse of social media that they would normally have no interest in just to avoid missing out. It's the reason you end up taking 'random' selfies on a night out instead of just enjoying yourself. It's a form of competitiveness that only seems to exist within the post 90's generation. When this is related to job opportunities, friend making or seeking out new creative outlets, it can be a great thing. But having a neknomination video just because everyone else seems to, not so much. It's looks like serious multitasking drinking a flagon of someone's piss whilst holding a camera steady. That's effort you could use to, you know, enjoy your drink. Not only does it make you look like a trend follower without a rational brain of your own, it hardly gives off that 'responsible adult seeking graduate employment' vibe. Sorry to come over all careers adviser but seriously kids, THINK OF YOUR FUTURE EMPLOYERS. You might think your Facebook settings are private, but with just a little internet trickery your Malibu and Marmite mini movie is there for anyone to see.

Drinking games can be fun. Believe it or not, I have played a few of them myself. But neknomination isn't a game. There's no real humour, all the social interaction is done from behind a screen and ultimately, there's no winner. People will never stop downing drinks- it's part of a culture that I as a tightwad cocktail sipper will never understand. But please, can we stop filming it already? As I publish this now, Neknomination has thankfully seemingly passed, forever rejected to the pile of internet fads that will appear on buzzfeed or it's equivalent in ten years as a 'remember this stupid fad?' list, or at the very least, another one of those things we see on the crappy 'round up of 2014' shows they like to put on at Christmas. Is does make you wonder what next though. Twerk nomination? The Selfie N Smack Olympics? Or live action Candy Crush where you have to inject pure sugar into your veins on camera every time you destroy a row? The mind boggles...

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