What is #NekNominate, Anyway?

So, picture this. You’re enjoying your Reading Week off, you’re scrolling through Facebook, and you’re feeling pretty good. Then you see a little red notification icon pop up telling you someone’s saying your name. You click it, and a video pops up of your good friend chugging down an oversized mug of beer, or maybe swilling down a questionable mixture of alcohol through a clear pipe and a funnel, maybe even followed by them doing some kind of dare, ranging from mildly strange to THIS IS INSANE WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS. At the end they point at the screen and say,

“I nominate…[insert your name]!!”

Congratulations, you’ve just been NekNominated.

If you’ve been online anytime in the last few weeks or so you’ve probably seen scads of videos just like the scenario above, where daring drinkers attempt to out-drink and out-dare the people who NekNominated them – from stripping down in the middle of a supermarket to downing live goldfish.

So what exactly is #NekNominate? The short answer is: an online drinking game. The longer answer? It’s a fad believed to have started in Australia that has its participants downing (“necking”) large amounts of booze, usually while performing some kind of stunt on camera, and then nominating a friend to do the same within 24 hours and post it on social media.

Sounds fun, right? I mean, who doesn’t like drinking games? Unfortunately, it’s one game that’s being blamed for the untimely demise of two young men in Ireland and potentially linked to three more deaths.

See, the problem here is that, unlike your typical Friday night out where you might find yourself stumbling about, gently tipsy at the end of night, this game involves drinking large amounts of alcohol in a very short time, which – as anyone who drinks should know – is a Very Bad Idea.

As we all know alcohol tends to do things to your brain like, say, make you feel the earth’s rotation a bit too keenly. But that’s not the only thing it does to your body.

“Continued alcohol abuse will break down your liver and you risk alcohol toxicity,” says Christina Trotman, a registered nurse (RN) at North York General Hospital. “You risk cirrhosis, even brain damage and Alzheimers from prolonged use.”

Brain damage and Alzheimers…not a good look for anyone trying to study, amirite?? Not to mention the dangers of reckless drinking, which can lead to impaired driving and its consequences, among other things.

Health care professionals around the world warning about the dangers of the NekNominate trend also note the pressure some might feel to participate in order to avoid cyber-bullying for having “chickened out”.

But here’s some good news. A number of people have taken the challenge and are bypassing the alcohol entirely while putting their own spin on it, from the uniquely Canadian take of wearing a fur hat and downing a cup of maple syrup while dressed in plaid on a snowy, pine-dotted hill, to adding a philanthropic twist by buying cups of coffee for every car at a Tim Hortons Drive-Thru as Wilfrid Laurier student Dorian Wilson did.

The latter, Pay-It-Forward version of #NekNominate has even found its way here to Ryerson.

When Michelle Park, a first year Retail Management student, was NekNominated by a friend, she decided to take on the challenge, but with a twist. Her video starts with her watching the nomination video on her laptop in O’Keefe House where she resides, then when her name comes up she glances at the camera in shock, saying,

“I just got NekNominated! Okay, well then…cheers!”

She holds up a red Dixie cup and “clinks” it towards the camera, then pauses and adds, “You know what…I’ve got a better idea.”

What follows next is an awesome montage of Michelle heading out into the snow with a friend to the nearest Tim Hortons and purchasing a traveller full of hot chocolate. She then proceeds to hand out hot, steaming cups of chocolate to random passersby who appear pleasantly surprised by her gesture, including some homeless people toughing out the cold weather. When the hot chocolate is gone, she follows up with handing out scarves, socks and other warm items to the people living on the street. At the end of the four minute video she thanks the friend who nominated her, then proceeds to nominate everyone at O’Keefe House to follow her example!

“I was inspired to make a nice Nek Nom video because my life long goal is to inspire and help others. Also, I know how cold it is outside, and I felt so bad for the people outside!” Michelle said, when we reached out to her after she posted the video. She notes that the nomination wasn’t what particularly spurred the gifts of scarves and socks to the homeless, saying that she often gave out things like gift cards to DavidsTea, even without the cameras around.

“I honestly believed that something like this could catch on,” she says of this alternate twist on the NekNomination trend.

“There was a guy named Brent Lindeque that started this in South Africa and this inspired me to really start these nice neknominations. I also think that it was pointless drinking your face off and it was very dangerous as well. I definitely know for a fact that this is catching on because I’ve seen so many people doing these nice neknominations.”

So it would seem that, despite the many negative stories coming out of this unfortunate trend, there is also a lot of good being done in response, often by young people choosing to stand up and buck the trend.

So how about it? What will your positive #Neknomination be?