As the new drinking game NekNomination sweeps across the globe, many outraged onlookers have called for tighter restrictions on social media platforms.
The game, which originated in Australia and is particularly popular with students, involves a person posting a video on Facebook of themselves downing an alcoholic drink, usually in an extreme – and sometimes dangerous – manner, before nominating a friend to do the same within 24 hours.
With people dying as a result of playing the game, there has been a public outcry from parents calling for Facebook to ban pages and videos linked to the stunt.
Facebook has rejected these calls, stating that it aims to be a platform to share freely as long as the content is not directly harmful to an individual (e.g. racism or bullying), adding “that controversial or offensive behaviour doesn’t necessarily violate their rules.”
As nobody is being bullied or forced into performing the stunt, a number of questions soon spring to mind as result.
Is there too much peer pressure on social networking sites? Is the binge-drinking culture spiralling out of control? Should the blame ultimately lie with the individual concerned and are the youth of today just too irresponsible?
There is certainly cause for concern with regarding peer pressure on social networking. NekNomination is a prime example of misguided youths trying to achieve social kudos from their friends and peers.
With each video aimed to become more daring than the last, the incumbent nominee faces a certain pressure and expectation to live up to, in a quest for their peer’s acceptance.
In 2014, words such as “legend” and “hero” are often all too easily (and rather worryingly) attributed to those partaking in reckless, drunken abandon without thinking about the consequences.
It is in this dangerous quest for social status that often has life-destroying repercussions such as prosecution, serious injury, or as we have tragically seen with NekNomination – death.
It should be said that trying to impress people with drunken shows of bravado is nothing special to this generation, and often a drunken night out leads to nothing more than youthful high-jinks, but there are, however, an ever-increasing amounts of stories in the press and the media, week after week, of young people putting not only themselves, but often others in danger.
One notable example of this behaviour is the story of Inky Ralph, from County Durham. The 21-year-old showed a blatant disregard for the safety of others when she rode into a Tesco store on horseback, ready to perform her drinking dare.
Once you look past the initial shock value and novelty of the prank, it soon becomes apparent that the shoppers, horse and even the girl herself, were all lucky to escape without injury.
And despite the inevitable outrage and media furore to accompany the story, Inky seems to have taken it all with a pinch of salt, and even with the power of hindsight; she is unable to fathom the dangers of her actions.
But in an age where actions of such remiss are revered far and wide through the medium of the internet, it is little wonder that Inky and countless others, show little remorse or take responsibility for their actions.
That is not to be said that young people don’t use trends such as NekNominate to have a positive impact. When South African, Brent Lindeque was nominated, he decided to do something different.
Using the power of the internet to draw attention to his country’s poverty levels, he pulls up in his car and hands homeless man a sandwich, a chocolate bar and a bottle of Coke.
Proof that with the right intention, social networking can be a powerful medium for good.