What is this? Do I get an award? Do I become famous? Can I do it? Should I do it?
The Neknomination trend started in the UK the past January, and due to its nature, (drinking + playing) it has quickly spread throughout the world. The basic concept behind neknominating is: You record yourself drinking a half-liter beer as fast as possible (sometimes in “creative” ways) and then you upload the video on social media, nominating three of your friends to do the same (drink/record/nominate) within 24 hours. Should they fail to do so, they are “obliged” to buy you a crate of beers or satisfy any bet already put forth.
The nature of the game is to combine beer and creativity, have fun and enjoy, but an issue that comes into play, especially after the unfortunate incidents of two young males who died because of neknominations, (a teenager got drowned, aged 19 and another, aged 22, was nominated too many times,) is: “To what extent should neknomination be taken seriously?”
Some might argue that “It is their own fault for acting irresponsibly. Nobody forced them to do such crazy things”. To a certain extent that statement could hold, but the line separating creativity and craziness, especially when beer comes along, is a rather thin one.
The correct question, under that context, I believe should be: “Should an idea promoting, even the tiniest bit, of irresponsible behavior be that popular?” A drinking-based-activity that is dependent on your ability to drink a half-liter beer as fast as possible has changed its original purpose. Although I believe it might have indeed started as a fun-game, it has come to be treated by numerous people more as a challenge rather than simply a game.
Do not get me wrong. I am in favor of various drinking games that combine drinking with fun. On the other hand however, I disagree with the extent to which this habit should be publicly endorsed. Peer pressure can always influence your rationality and decision-making abilities. If you want to have fun with your friends, I find no reason why this should be public, let alone forcing others to do the same. It can negatively influence people, not necessarily the ones that are directly participating in the “event”, but also people that come into contact with that video. Nowadays, younger kids have accounts on social media, such as Facebook or Twitter, and easier access to the internet and all the trouble that might go along with it. Thus, when posting videos that demonstrate an, to say the least, ambiguous, behavior we should also take into account whether such a behavior can cause a negative externality to people watching it. Since the possibility that a few number of people can exercise the option of acting, or interpreting the meaning of the game, irresponsibly exists, we should ask ourselves whether we want to consider ourselves as “passively responsible” for transmitting this kind of behavior.
Following debates as to whether social media are good or bad, there has been this new trend throughout the world to dramatically shift the scale, in my opinion, on the negative side. Although not solely responsible for the creation of the #Neknominations trend, social media have, sure enough, been responsible for spreading the “wrong” use and the fact that the game is being misused.