A new drinking game that takes place entirely on social media appears to be spreading wildly in certain corners of the world, but it's dumb, dangerous, and possibly deadly. The origin of "NekNominations" is unclear, but generally media reports say it started in Australia, specifically Perth, and has now spread overseas. Most recently it has invaded Canada, prompting "worrying" columns in the Telegraph, and condemnations from Canadian teachers and police officers. It's only a matter of time before NekNominations moves down to the drinking game-happy land of the United States.
The rules of the game are simple. If you are "nominated," you are to record a video of yourself chugging a beer and then post that video to Facebook or YouTube. You have become the NekNominee. In your video, you are to nominate two more people, who must also record a drinking video, nominating two more people, and so the cycle of drinking goes on and on forever. It is essentially the digital 2014 equivalent of "Bros Icing Bros," a phenomenon best left in another decade.
Those are the very bare bones rules, but obviously it doesn't stop there. (Opening and pouring the beverage on video to prove authenticity seems to be some kind of unwritten rule.) Some people try to drink more than the person who nominated them, adding hard liquor into the equation, or adding crazy stunts or outfits. Anything you can do to top the other person and impress your pals. You can find plenty of examples of the more extreme side of NekNominations on Youtube.
Over the weekend my (very Canadian) Facebook feed filled up with videos of friends chugging beers and downing shots and slurring other people's names at the end, calling out their friends and colleagues to join the game. Most of the videos were filmed on Saturday night, or late on Super Bowl Sunday, a rare occasion when lots of people were drinking on the Sabbath. It was very confusing.
So is this a real thing, or another hyped-up, but not real panic like the "Knockout Game"? It's so new that UrbanDictionary is no help, but apparently, the game started in Perth, Australia, and has been spreading around the world in short order. South Africa, Ireland, and Canada now seem to be popular locations, and the videos on YouTube are in the thousands, and growing. So people are definitely participating. It seems like simple, harmless fun at first. Just drinking a beer with your friends, but on the Internet. No different from a regular Saturday night for the 20-somethings I watched on my feed. In fact, it seemed to help old friends separated by time and space come together over a (digital) pint — one friend visiting Australia nominated his closest buddy who lives at home, in Canada. It was drunkenly touching. But the social pressures to participate have yielded much more dangerous results in other parts of the world.
NekNominations have become a point of controversy in Ireland (and has reached the BBC) where two deaths have been connected to the game. A nineteen-year-old Irish student filmed himself chugging a beer and then jumped into a river and drowned while filming a NekNomination video. The backlash to the game in Ireland has reached the point where a DJ who uploaded a video of himself chugging coffee instead of beer was hailed as a hero. So adults are concerned, but of course, the other option is to ignore your NekNomination completely and not film yourself chugging an entire beer, or more, just because someone on Facebook told you to.
Please, America, don't fall for this new game. The potential for NekNominations to become the new Icing, but dumber, is so high. This is your chance to nip it in the bud. Like Icing, the game itself is mostly harmless, but the temptation to take it to the next level with ever more elaborate (and stupid) setup and stunts could quickly get out of hand. You know good ol' American bros will accept the gauntlet thrown down by the rest of the world. That's not exceptionalism in action.
Who am I kidding? This freight train is coming and we can't stop it. Just don't nominate us.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.