Perhaps it was former PM, Bob Hawke who started it… or perhaps it was at a college in Western Australia, where mates dared their friends to film themselves skulling a beer, upload it to Facebook then nominate two more of their friends to do the same thing.
The Neknominations spread quickly across Australia, then making it’s way across the globe. What started as innocent fun, dramatically escalated as young people continued to push the limits; performing daring tricks, drinking spirits, doing shots, hanging from buildings and even drinking whilst driving. It is believed that 5 people have died as a result of participating in Neknominations, and more people are dying each year from alcohol related illnesses such as liver cancer/alcohol poisoning each year (Knapton, 2014).
Social Media is copping a lot of the blame for these risk-taking stunts, with many studies now being undertaken. There is no denying the health issues related to binge drinking, however, platforms like Facebook and Youtube are just the infrastructure delivering these powerful messages by individuals and groups around the world. Even the Neknomination Facebook page, managed by Jay Anthony, immediately removed videos which showed people engaging in dangerous activites. “I encourage responsible neknominations. Innovation should be the driving force,” said Anthony in regards to media criticism.
#Neknomination trended across the globe, and like any trending topic, will enentually phase out, like the Harlem Shake and Planking, to make way for something new and exciting. People have always had “the need to follow the crowd and do what majority of us are doing forces us to do things or take up activities which we wouldn’t otherwise. This is especially true for teenagers who are easily influenced by their surroundings or people they socialize with” (Secureteen.com, 2013) and this human trait is not going to change overnight.
If anything, the media is doing its best to deliver information to discourage irresponsible attitudes towards alcohol. There are many organisations promoting responsible drinking and dealing with alcohol related issues such as tacklingbingedrinking.gov.au. It warns us of short and long term affects of alcohol abuse and promoting positive attitudes towards alcohol through sporting heroes and at music events.
Through education and messages portraying responsible attitudes towards alcohol, we are able to teach those who are at a higher risk of being influenced, to make good decisions. It is not the media itself who is Neknominating you, it’s your friends.
Knapton, Science Correspondent for the Daily Telegraph UK, 19/02/14, accessed 17/03/14, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/10649164/NekNominate-alcohol-deaths-rise-fuelled-by-online-drinking-games.html
An Australian Government Initiative, http://www.tacklingbingedrinking.gov.au/internet/tackling/publishing.nsf/content/under-the-influence
SecureTeen, “How Positive Peer Pressure Works,” 25/06/13, accessed 17/03/14, http://www.secureteen.com/peer-pressure/how-positive-peer-pressure-works/