Editorial, Opinion

EDIT: I nekNominate you

Have you been nominated for NekNomination? Well, if you haven’t, here’s your nomination … to not do it.

The new social media phenomenon, NekNominate, involves people filming themselves drinking copious amounts of alcohol, and then nominating a few other of their Facebook friends to post a response video out-doing them.

The Facebook page dedicated to the craze reads, “Neck your drink. Nominate another. Don’t break the chain, don’t be a d**k. The social drinking game for social media! #neknominate. Drink Responsibly.”

What started as a simple beer-chugging craze in the United Kingdom and Ireland developed into a worldwide competition of who can complete a more extreme drinking challenge.

This drinking game has gathered serious attention and has recently been linked to several deaths in the UK and Ireland. One case involves a young British man who filmed himself downing two pints of gin mixed with several teabags. Shortly after filming the video, Eames complained of feeling ill and died four days later. Another fatal case involved one boy mixing liquor with motor oil — which really leaves you to think what his friend did in the preceding video.

Parents and activist groups have been up in arms about this game because it has recently spread to children as young as 10. After being nominated, a 10-year-old boy nearly drowned himself in a cocktail comprised of vodka shots, Nando’s hot sauce and mayonnaise. Although he did not die, the fact that this craze has spread to this extent has caused people to call on Facebook and Twitter to warn their users about the game and regulate to their content.

Although Facebook and Twitter have been used as the hub for spreading this game, these sites are by no means responsible for the deaths and injuries of those who have been nominated. Zuckerberg created Facebook as a place to share pictures, thoughts, opinions and musings with the intent of garnering interest, and if that involves an irrational drinking game, then so be it. Social media users cannot demand privacy and then get mad at the sites for intrusive oversight.

Schools have held assemblies and conferences, while parents have created councils and attended meetings to figure out how to combat this game. Many feel the solution would be for Facebook and Twitter to simply put up a warning sign highlighting the danger of this game.

If the social media sites put up a banner warning users of the dangers of planking or tombstoning when those were popular trends, would people have stopped? A craze is a craze and the only thing that will kill it is time. Putting up a banner or warning label will only bring it more attention.

The problem isn’t the game or the “nomination” on Facebook, but rather its the social pressure and drink-until-you-do-something-stupid mentality. If people have a problem with the NekNomination videos on Facebook, why don’t they just change the nature of the nomination like South African Brent Lindeque did?

When Lindeque was nominated into the game by one of his friends, he decided to use the attention to do something more powerful than chugging a lethal alcoholic tincture.

“I’ve decided to create something positive out of the random global phenomena of NekNomination,” Lindeque wrote on his page. “Downing a can of Castle Light is easy … imagine if we all harnessed the power of social media to make a real difference in peoples lives. #OnlyGoodThings.”

Lindeque was filmed stopping his car at a light and handing a sandwich and drink to a homeless man on the street. He then proceeded to nominate three other friends to do #OnlyGoodThings in their video. Now, that’s something to pull on your heartstrings.

According to BullyingStatistics.org more than 1 in 3 people have experienced cyber threats online. Over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, while 25 percent of adolescents and teens have been bullied repeatedly through their cell phones or the Internet. According to the Journal of Adolescent Health, cyber bullying has been attributed to major psychological and physical trauma – including suicide.

If councils are going to call on these social media sites to put up warning signs against NekNomination, where is the banner warning against cyber bullying? If people have a problem with NekNomination videos, there are two simple solutions – don’t do it, and hit the report button.

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