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the truth about Neknomination

Neknomination might sound like the name of an anime convention, but it’s allegedly an up-and-coming fad in which drinking game and social media are finally intertwined. Unfortunately, it’s only gaining momentum now as a result of the media coverage of two deaths this weekend in Ireland.

I would like to express my deepest sympathies for the lost lives of Jonny Byrne and Ross Cummins. This never should have happened.

I can certainly appreciate that the families of these boys will point the finger at Neknomination as the culprit in this tragedy. I would probably do the same. However this trend as much greater societal implications–is the game really to blame?

I’m from America, where drinking games are the norm, especially amongst youths. I’ve tried to bring some old classics to Ireland before–beer pong, Kings, quarters–but they haven’t caught on, and not because they require too much drinking. The Irish have no patience for drinking games because they can generally drink more and faster without the nuisance of being told when they have to drink. Drinking games, when played correctly, can actually be a great aid in pacing oneself. If you only drink when you are required to, and not in between, you might actually stay too sober (this is what doesn’t mesh with the Irish). This generation of youths though, partly through the influence of social media, are perhaps more open to drinking games. However, a drinking game where the only challenge is drinking a lot, is no game at all.

I like board games, so it’s no wonder that I enjoy drinking games. Back in Richmond, my sister and I would often turn anything from Trivial Pursuit Junior to walking down the street into a drinking game. Yes, we made up a game to drink to while walking down the street. Things were that good. I hate to see the good name of drinking games get dragged through the mud. But drinking games are only the half of it.

The other component of this is the challenge. Although the single factor tying these Neknomination videos together might seem to be the appalling vertical camera orientation, there is supposedly more to them. Participants are being accused of cyber bullying and using peer pressure to influence the nominees to do make their videos more and more extreme. That being said, I’ve watched an assortment of the videos, and many are simply chugging brews or creating disgusting cocktails that they subsequently neck. Some of them might jump off things. But then I saw a guy in a thong crush a beer, take two vodka shots, eat a raw egg, snort a line of something, and drink what he said was piss, followed by chili sauce, then windex. I’m not sure if it was supposed to be satire, but if not, it could certainly work as such. There is certainly no conclusion, to a game in which the goal is for each to one up the last, other than death.

I would guess that the persons who nominated Jonny and Ross feel pretty terrible right now. Although there must be some peer pressuring involved, no friend wants to see you hurt yourself to complete a silly challenge. Right? The videos are supposed to be funny, but then again so is the Treadmill Fail Compilation on youtube. This is the fodder of America’s Funniest Home Videos and its modern day youtube fueled counterparts. There is also a movie called Jackass that has multiple sequels, so honestly, this is nothing new. It is worth noting that the participants are overwhelmingly male, and that men have a lot of trouble shying away from a pissing contest.

I don’t really enjoy watching videos of people doing stupid things, but I will defend to the death their right to do it. This game is stupid, but it’s not the problem. This is what our culture has become.

Here are some reminders for those who have been neknominated:
– turn your phone sideways, this way the video will take up the whole screen
– this is a video, so even though you’re supposed to be drinking alcohol, no one is going to know if it’s really just juice or water
– if you plan on drinking copious amounts of alcohol, make sure you have a buddy present (this is always a good idea)
– you don’t need to drink copious amounts of alcohol, one pint is all
– please think about the safety of the stunt before you attempt it. If you couldn’t pull it off sober, you definitely won’t be able to drunk
– don’t let anyone bully you into it, it’s not worth it
– you don’t have to do it, but if you don’t want to be called a pussy just remember this: you don’t have to make the best neknomination video ever, it just needs to be a tiny bit better than that of the person who nominated you.
– drinking so much that you have blood alcohol poisoning is not impressive, don’t make the challenge about that. Stick to 1 pint, of your drink of choice. Watching someone drink a lot doesn’t even make for a particularly interesting video
– safety first, always.

This game doesn’t have to be so extreme. For every crazy video, there’s a video that’s pretty tame. Keep it light and keep it fun.

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