Drinking games are nothing new. People have found creative ways to binge drink since antiquity, with references to drinking games found in texts and artifacts from ancient Greece and ancient China.
Popular drinking games over the past few decades include keg stands, beer pong, and quarters. Drinking games can be dangerous, and many institutions have banned such activities to try to stop people from playing them. The latest international drinking game sweeping social media, #Neknominate, has already been linked to several deaths.
What is #Neknominate?
Neknominate, which uses the hashtag (#) to trend on social media, is an online drinking game that incorporates social media sites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. For the game, a person drinks large amounts of alcohol while recording him or herself. Then, the person shares the video online and nominates two friends to do the same.
It received its name from the Australian slang term for drinking, necking, because it initiated in Australia. It was originally known as “neck and nominate,” but that was shortened to neknominate for the purposes of trending on social networking sites.
Neknominate is not a brand new trend. References to it on social media began around three years ago. However, it gained traction and moved around the globe, with the help of social media and Irish rugby player, Ross Samson, who nominated all his Facebook followers this past Christmas Eve.
Social media has made it easy for people to nominate and share with friends around the globe. The game has also escalated from just chugging a beer to drinking more dangerous and toxic drinks. At least five people have died due to playing neknominate.
Examples of Neknominate Activities
There are no formal rules or guidelines to the game. The point is to drown large amounts of alcohol in crazy ways, film oneself, and then share the video and nominate friends to do the same. It is all about outdoing one another, causing the game to get more and more deadly as the activities get bigger and more daring.
Neknominate has caused people to do outlandish things, such as drinking beer out of a toilet, riding a horse in a grocery store while drinking, and playing the game in one’s underwear in public. Although these activities are eccentric, they are not necessarily life-threatening.
The biggest problem with the game is the amount of alcohol consumed and the choice of alcoholic drink, because the higher the alcohol content, the more dangerous it is to drink large amounts quickly. For example, one of the people who died from neknominate drank two pints of gin and another drank a cocktail made out of wine, whisky, vodka, and lager.
The Role of Social Media
The pervasiveness of social media plays a significant role in the spread and popularity of neknominate. The thrill of friends watching the video and then sharing with and nominating them adds to the game’s appeal and inspires its players to do more outlandish dares. Parents and other concerned individuals have called on Facebook and Twitter to ban the hashtag content and remove any references in order to stop the trend. However, Facebook refused to remove it, responding by saying:
“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.”
The Dangers of Neknominate
Neknominate is dangerous and potentially lethal. Drinking large amounts of alcohol quickly can result in alcohol poisoning, which can cause a person to go into a coma or die. The body can only metabolize a certain amount of alcohol in a period of time, since the liver can only process one drink per hour.
Alcohol affects every organ of the body, and the more a person drinks at one time, the greater affect it will have on the body. Drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time will affect a person’s breathing, gag reflex, and heart.
Alcohol Is A Depressant
Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows breathing, lowers blood pressure, and lowers the heart rate. If someone’s blood alcohol level rises sharply during a short time period, the areas of the brain that controls the cardiovascular system are sedated, or put to sleep. This causes people to lose consciousness, slip into a coma, or die.
It might also cause someone to choke on his or her own vomit. When a person drinks a large amount quickly, alcohol builds up in the system because the body cannot metabolize it fast enough. That results in a higher blood alcohol concentration and increases the risk of alcohol poisoning and lethal consequences.
Alcohol poisoning is very serious. Symptoms include losing consciousness, vomiting, seizures, irregular and slow breathing, and cold and clammy skin. If a person has these symptoms, he or she should seek medical attention immediately.
The Health Consequence of Binge Drinking
In addition to increasing the risk of alcohol poisoning, binge drinking and drinking games can cause health problems that will last a lifetime. Binge drinking affects all of the major body systems, especially the liver. It also increases a person’s risk of becoming addicted to alcohol or having substance abuse problems.
About 1 in 4 people who already heavily drink or engage in binge drinking have the symptoms of alcoholism or alcohol abuse. Additionally, alcohol can make people do stupid things that can become life-threatening or cause debilitating injuries. For example, one of the people who died jumped into a river during his neknominate stunt.
The game is bigger in the U.K. and Australia, but there are also players in the U.S. and other countries. It is up to users to realize the dangers of playing the game and find alternative ways to find a thrill. Some concerned social media users are encouraging replacing binge drinking with random acts of kindness to make it a healthier game. It is important to stop this game from gaining any more momentum in order to prevent more deaths.
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