NekNominate sweeps the Internet

The new fad combines drinking and machismo

The viral Internet trend du jour is more than just a drinking game. Merging classic college culture with social networking, “Neknominate” has inspired a new online trend that has taken the world by force, with epic videos, camaraderie and controversy.

The mechanics are simple: A player takes a video of themselves drinking a pint of beer or a more lethal concoction and then “nominates” another person (or two) for all the world to see. The person then responds with a video of his or her own. These videos are distributed among several different social networks and video services, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Originally called “Neck and Nominate,” the name refers to the British slang, “to neck one’s beer,” which is their equivalent to chugging. It all began on Christmas Day in 2013, when rugby star Ross Samson, then playing for London Irish, made a video nominating “all of you whose birthday it’s not.” The video went viral in a matter of days, and “Neknominate” spread. Initially, the game was played with pints of beer, with people matching each other’s drinks.

The game has adopted a new theme. It isn’t just about chugging a beer anymore, it’s all about the challenges. People post videos of themselves drinking in more extreme (and sometimes dangerous) circumstances. The game has led to five alleged deaths, including one rugby player who filmed himself drinking two pints of gin. People who get nominated may feel pressured to match, or even outdo, the challenge that came before them. This could result in more dangerous situations, and riskier amounts of alcohol.

Some say the game has gone too far given the deaths, while others argue that it’s one’s own responsibility to know how much alcohol he or she can handle and to know the risks involved. And how do you even stop a game that’s gone viral? The answer is, you can’t. “Neknominate” isn’t just going to end with a couple of bad games, it’ll end when it stops being fun or people move on to the next Internet phenomenon. So until then, enjoy the craze — in moderation, of course.