Davis' desk: Online fads getting sadder

Austin M.
Austin M. Davis
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Young people are always looking for new and exciting ways to destroy themselves.

I know my self-destructive Millennials love to party, but the sudden rise of neknomination caught me off guard.

The newest online video craze isn’t exploring new territory. Smack cam videos and the knockout game encouraged violence against other people. Icing, the game of tricking people into chugging a Smirnoff Ice, encouraged friendly alcoholic competition.

Neknomination is a combination of the two. The only violent aspect, so far, is what people have been doing to themselves with liquor. (Unless you count the man who put mice in a blender and drank those too).

A little research shows the game may have started in Australia before 2010. Its recent resurgence is a wave washing over social media. The game involves videos around 2–4 minutes long where one person consumes a large amount of alcohol in increasingly creative ways. They end the video by nominating other people to make their own video within 24 hours.

These unflattering, unprofessional and potentially deadly videos are being posted online en mass.

According to a 2008 survey of 3,100 employers, careerbuilder.ca found 41 per cent of hiring managers said that job hopefuls had too much information on social networking sites surrounding their drinking or drug usage, which led to their dismissal from the candidate pool.

There’s no privacy anymore. Even with locked Instagram, Vine, Facebook or Twitter accounts, information, photos and videos can still spread beyond your control.

Neknominating has the potential to leave the realm of endangering future employment and becoming a life-threatening epidemic.

The Telegraph linked the game to at least four deaths in Europe.

Peer pressure is fueling the competitive edge of the videos. People are trying to one-up each other.

In the past 24 hours I have watched a young woman drink two margaritas and half a two-six of rum. I watched a bartender snort salt, spray lemon in his eye and drink the spillage from a bar mat. I watched a man my age from Regina drink whiskey and an egg from a boot.

They were all in their mid- to late-20s.

Those examples may not be life-threatening, but there’s no doubt neknominating has gone international. It might not last long. The lifespan of online fads is always getting shorter. But while it’s around, it could do a lot of damage.

The first video I saw was of a young university athlete polishing off half a bottle of vodka and taking painkillers right after. He’s OK.

My gut reaction was that it must be fake. Maybe several of the videos are. But there are undoubtedly genuine examples of dangerous binge drinking.

My sole concern is: what happens when this craze catches on with high school students? Hopefully they’re smart enough to avoid a game this foolish.

Some good has came out of neknominating: a South African man decided to twist the concept and posted a video of himself handing food to a homeless man. That’s a great response, but it says a lot about the state of young people worldwide. It implies we first need a bad trend to create a good idea. It also suggests we need to document our good deeds. Neither are true.

We should not be encouraging binge drinking or substance abuse. We should not need recognition to be generous.

Our fascination with technology is exposing our vanity and poor judgment.

As stupid as trends like neknominating are, they’re mostly just sad.

I belong to a generation with massive potential, but right now we just look damn lonely.



Austin is way too busy to make videos of himself doing foolish things. Follow him on Twitter @theAustinX.

Geographic location: Australia, Europe, Austin

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