Closely following the fall of the 300 Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae, being a young adult in the age of social media will likely go down as one of the most senselessly trying times in history. Despite its many benefits, social media has its drawbacks, having a tendency to amplify the effects of peer pressure and harassment. While ridiculous trends are by no means news for a social media site, a recent alcohol related challenge known as Neknomination has already led to five deaths in the U.K.
Believed to owe its origins to Australia in December of 2013, the game is similar to the ice bucket challenge, involving a “necker,” the person making a nomination followed by a self-created alcohol related challenge. Past challenges have incorporated creative concepts such as drinking out of a toilet, drinking while riding a horse through a convenience store and mixing drinks with a dead mouse, goldfish, insects, dog food or even engine oil. If the person refuses to accept the challenge, they are lambasted with the full force of their social media network. Although Facebook has been reached for comment, they have unsurprisingly stayed neutral, releasing the following statement on the matter:
“We do not tolerate content which is directly harmful, for example bullying, but behavior which some people may find offensive or controversial is not always necessarily against our rules. We encourage people to report things to us which they feel breaks our rules so we can review and take action on a case by case basis,” said a Facebook spokesperson.
While it is unsurprising that some people are outraged at the deaths caused by Neknominating, it is understandable that they are opting out of sliding down the slippery slope that is making moral judgments. If Facebook were to take down any Neknomination-related posts, they would then be expected to do the same for the next trend that garners some objection. Anything mildly offensive in social media would be fair game for deletion: bragging, selfies, etc.
However, there have been Facebook pages made to encourage young people to change the word Neknominate into something positive. For instance, participants are encouraged to film themselves performing a random act of kindness, asking a friend to do the same.
Solutions to the social media game
While surprising a stranger with a random act of kindness does have the potential to become a trend, the reality is that many college students do not have a good time by filming themselves spontaneously doing nice things for people. Although most trends are transient in nature and will likely be over before one can even begin trying to avoid it, possible solutions to participating in the Neknomination challenge include simply using a non-alcoholic alternative or declining the challenge.
Also something that may possibly work, posting a challenge so ridiculous that people knew it was fake could potentially ruin the credibility of it, fast tracking it on its way to “lameness” in the eyes of most drinking college students. For instance, drinking oneself out of a tank filled with dark beer in a Houdini-esque challenge, but failing only to pop out of a nearby keg unharmed. The spectacle of it may be enough to go viral, but it will set a ridiculous precedent that takes away from the validity of the game, likely causing it to lose popularity.
An addiction, treatment and dual diagnosis center, Sovereign Health’s Rancho San Diego-based Adolescent Program employs a multitude of treatment options for mental health disorders, substance abuse or co-occurring conditions. For more information on our programs, feel free to contact us at 866-615-7266.