How far does a game need to go before it's no longer a laughing matter? A new social media game called Neknomination seems to have answered that question. An Internet-assisted drinking game originating with a pro athlete in the UK, a game of escalating challenges has already been blamed for several deaths around the world.
It has drawn attention to the difficulties of monitoring the way young people use social media, as well as the persistent dangers of excessive drinking for people of all ages. Thankfully, the tragedies surrounding Neknomination have inspired some to alter the game to do some good.
Neknomination is a viral video challenge game thought to originate within the closed circle of a UK rugby player and his friends. In the game, a person records themself drinking a large quantity ("necking") of alcohol, often in unusual circumstances or mixed with other things, followed by a challenge for another individual to create and consume an even more extreme drink.
The person challenged is considered "Neknominated." Mixed with social media networks, this has resulted in a lot of social pressure for Neknominated individuals to do dangerous things. Confirmed Neknomination videos have depicted college students drinking large amounts of what is presumed to be alcohol out of a toilet bowl, mixing alcohol with dog food and consuming significant quantities of beer in a very short amount of time.
Several deaths have already been connected to the Neknomination fad. Irish teen Jonny Byrne was found dead after answering a challenge to chug a pint of beer and then jump into a river. Another young man, British 20-year-old Bradley Eames, answered a challenge and consumed two pints of straight gin in less than a minute. He reported stomach pains soon afterward and died four days later, most likely of alcohol poisoning. You can identify some of the signs of alcohol poisoning or liver failure, such as nausea, abdominal swelling and itching, by educating yourself with trusted medical sources. Three other deaths related to Neknominate have also involved the consumption of dangerous amounts of alcohol in very short periods of time.
A number of intrepid individuals have responded to the dangers and tragedies associated with Neknomination by twisting the game's format to do good in the world. Some people, such as South African man Brent Lindeque and Julien Voinson of France, have started a trend of creating nominations and challenges to gather large amounts of food for the homeless. They call this system RAKnomination (Random Acts of Kindness). By using social media to challenge people to improve conditions of others in their communities, some people are taking an unfortunate trend and using its format to make social media a tool for positive world change.
As the Neknomination fad has demonstrated, many people, especially youth, remain unaware of the dangers of excessive drinking. It's clear that many of the game's victims were unaware of the medical effects of consuming vast quantities of alcohol in a short period. With proper education and an online community of social responsibility, tragedies like these can be averted.