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Neknominate: The Bastard Child of Rampant Alcoholism and Social Media (By Michael Evans, 6:50pm class)

Michael Evans

Professor Bohn

Intro to Media Writing

2/27/14

Neknominate: The Bastard Child of Rampant Alcoholism and Social Media

Subhead: What started as a simple drinking game has caused major uproar and even death.

An Australian man in his early twenties wearing a tank top and a flat brimmed cap adjusts a low quality camcorder and steps back towards a countertop littered with assorted bottles of alcohol and glassware. This young hooligan starts to outline his objective by utilizing a variety of colloquialisms, pop culture references and a small amount of profanity. He intends to imbibe a potent concoction of hard liquor in response to a challenge issued by one of his compatriots. After a minute of exposition, the young man downs the drink, recovers and issues a challenge of his own to two other acquaintances. While slightly crude, this sort of activity seems like harmless puerile fun, right?

Wrong. This drinking game, unceremoniously dubbed “Neknominate” (a derivation of the slang term “neck” which means drink/to drink) originated in Australia and rapid spread throughout Europe and the United Kingdom and has started appearing in the United States as well. The primary cause of the game’s rampant growth is it’s distribution; the format of the game is similar to that of a chain letter – one participant drinks some mixture, records it, posts it to Facebook or some other website and then “nominates” two other people who must then attempt to outdo their predecessors’ exploits (There is an informal set of rules on nek-nom.com http://nek-nom.com/what-is-neknominate/). This system of nomination creates a pattern of escalation which has caused some concern among the general public as the ingredients put into these brews becomes more and more questionable (A young man can be seen here consuming household cleaning supplies in addition to alcohol: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dd4Ci65f9K0).

This game has even proven fatal in some cases and five deaths have been reported in relation to Neknomination in the United Kingdom alone, all of the victims being young men or adolescent boys. The most recent victim is 20 year old Bradley Eames who consumed two pints of gin, which is the alleged cause of his untimely death. An article in The Mirror (http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/fifth-neknominate-death-after-man-3150586) states that several of Eames’ friends tried to discourage him from joining in the game, but claim that Eames’ was spurred on by a desire to prove himself and “show who is boss.” Reports like this suggest that Eames’ might not have considered consuming so much alcohol if not for the social pressure created by Neknominate. Organizations like The Northern Ireland Public Health Agency and Alcohol Concern have taken steps to educate the public and combat this game especially given its popularity among underage drinkers, some of whom are not even teenagers (http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/neknominate-craze-spreads-primary-schools-3171205).

Underaged drinking and outward shows of masculinity are hardly new and it can be argued that Neknominate is not responsible for the actions of individuals who would probably engage in this sort of foolhardy behavior with or without the game. While some embrace the reckless abandon of the game, others have adapted it for more beneficial purposes. A young man in South African adapted Neknominate, adopting its format while replacing the drinking aspect with charity. This man recorded himself giving food to the needy, proving that Neknominate is at least partially salvageable (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/weird-news/neknominate-south-african-man-pledges-to-use-his-neknomination-to-reduce-poverty-9103657.html). So far positive examples of uses of Neknominate pale in comparison to the amount of harm and buffonery related to the challenges, but it’s hard to say if and how this game will evolve.

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