If something were to be referred to as “Going Viral” 20 years ago, people would more likely attribute it as a colloquialism for contracting a venereal disease than they would a string of popular videos. However the age of the internet is upon us and modern life is rife with the spreading of “viral” concepts that explode in popularity at first but soon fade out with a whimper as the next internet phenomenon is discovered. Whether it be the simple yet wacky idea of “planking” or the unmistakable lunacy of “The Harlem Shake”, there is always at least one viral trend for the social media world to sink their teeth into, the latest chapter of which being “neknomination”.
For those who still are yet to experience the latest offering from the depths of the Internet, “neknomination” entails filming oneself downing an alcoholic beverage and then uploading their achievements to Facebook with the goal of then nominating two or three friends to follow suit within twenty four hours.
The origins of the drinking game actually stretch as far back as 2010 when a group of bored friends came up with the concept of “neck and nominate” with the idea that it would provide each other with a bit of entertainment. The re-incarnation of the game was only forged after it was discovered by our friends down under where it transformed into “neknominate” and the game it is today. Once the game became a huge craze in Australia it was only a matter of time before it was flooding newsfeeds all over the UK.
Like any other internet phenomenon however, it wasn’t long before the inevitable competitiveness of the game took over; the simple concept of downing a pint and nominating your mates to do the same was no longer enough.
It was exactly from here that we get to the standard of video we see today, with friends trying to gazump either other by making said drink either more and more alcoholic or as vile as humanly possible. The former is self-explanatory in that some have opted to mix high percentage drinks together to create an extremely potent cocktail; it is the latter however that really does push the boundaries of what people will do to show off.
Whilst one level of this sees people drinking concoctions of alcohol, condiments, foods and other things that should never be mixed together, some have gone much further by reportedly drinking mixtures including urine, saliva or even excrement. Yes, some people have even drank bits of poo.
Another approach to the game has been for people to do a regular drink but add their own comic effect or stunt to the process, this could be anything from re-creating a scene from a film to downing a drink in a strange or crowded place. This approach has allowed people to be a little more unique in their attempts and seems to be gathering popularity over doing a “dirty pint”.
The game itself has come under a lot a scrutiny recently after two deaths were linked to the game, the most recent being a teenager in Northern Ireland who drowned after jumping in a river following his “neknomination” in an attempt to trump his friends at the game. This has led to calls for the game to be banned from Facebook as well as various groups that protest against the concept and call it dangerous.
Although there have been claims that “neknominations” have promoted an unhealthy drinking culture through the medium of peer pressure, in truth they have only really given an insight to uninformed people of a culture that has existed for many years. Drinking games have existed for longer than I’ve even been alive and the criticism aimed at those involved in the game are simply part of the next media outrage that will fizzle out as quickly as the game will.
As with all things, “neknominations” should be done with a degree of common sense, if you’re jumping in the lion enclosure after doing one pint of lager then it’s probably more likely you’re an idiot than drunk. The game was meant to be a bit of fun that allows friends from all over to connect with each other and have a laugh at each other’s expense, not to get yourself hurt or make people assume you’ve been kicked out of the gene pool as you guzzle down your own urine.