There’s a lot of talk of this Neck Nomination / ‘NekNominate’ malarkey going on at the moment. The papers have been dominated with it the past two weeks and just today there is yet another sad story in the press about a young man losing his life after taking part. On the way home today I also listened to a phone in with James O’Brien on LBC as he tried to negotiate his way through this new craze. (Sources: telegraph.co.uk mirror.co.uk lbc.co.uk)
Before I talk about this any further I can categorically say I won’t be necking anything or nominating anyone, because I think it’s stupid and irresponsible and quite frankly I’m too old for such silliness. That doesn’t mean to say I wouldn’t have done in the past though.
Looking through old albums on Facebook I’ve kind of shocked myself as to the number of photos there are of me with a drink in my hand, a drink on the table, or on many occasions I have simply taken a picture of my drink! We are drink obsessed in this country and the pressure to drink, and drink in quantity is constantly there.
My friends and I started drinking at a fairly young age, despite going to a pretty strict grammar school with fairly vigilent parents watching over us. Comparing ‘who was drunker’ stories at school on a Monday morning just became par for the course. As we got older, we even drank on occasions with our teachers. Then came the gap year working in London where the after-work drinking culture was HUGE. I was regularly ribbed by my much older colleagues about not being able to drink as much, because I was (and still am) so small. Then followed 4 years of University where of course drinking is the occupation you spend far more time and focus on than anything else. Through all of these periods of my life I was usually the lightweight of the group. The one who was always sick. The one with the bucket by the bed. The one with the dreadful hangover while everyone else emerged bright eyed and bushy tailed. The one still regretting the night before while friends were busy cracking open the next bottle of wine.
And it’s continued this way right into my 30’s. Not in such a debauched way, but the pressure to ‘keep up’ is still very much there. If I don’t feel like drinking too much, or downing a load of Jager Bombs, I find myself having to excuse myself with friends, sometimes even texting ahead to ‘warn’ them that I won’t be over-doing it that night. Sometimes there is a legitimate excuse like having to drive early the next day. Other times I just don’t feel like it. But the pressure is there. On so many occasions I’ve been made to feel like the less exciting friend because I can’t hold my drink as much as those around me or don’t want to ‘down’ a 6th shot of Sambuca. And I must point out that I am not mixing with big burly men who drink Tennents Super, but attractive, middle class women of the same age who have high powered professional jobs. It’s just a massive part of our social culture. I’m in no way trying to exonerate myself here by the way. I can obviously make my own decisions, and I always have a well stacked wine rack and a bottle chilling in the fridge. So I am probably just as guilty.
So if you don’t know already – this new craze of Neck and Nominate or ‘NekNominate’ is a current social media craze. You are supposed to film yourself necking an alcoholic drink whilst doing something absurd. The first one of these videos I saw was from a friend in Australia, and it seemed fairly mundane and not extraordinary at all. But very quickly stories are emerging of people drinking live fish, filming themselves going into supermarkets on horseback or necking potentially lethal cocktails. What may have started out as a bit of a laugh is spiralling out of control, and fast. I put it down to social and peer pressure, which is nothing new. Although Facebook and social media wasn’t around when I was at Uni, there was a huge culture of buying someone with a birthday a ‘dirty pint’. This consisted of anything and everything (the stronger the better) being chucked in a pint glass. The (un)lucky recipient then had to stand on a chair in the Union, attempting to tip the foul concoction down their throats while the whole place chanted ‘down it down it down it’. I recall bluntly refusing on my birthday, knowing that it would probably near enough kill me. But I saw so many poor people (girls and boys) cave in to the pressure, despite not wanting to, and spending their entire birthday weekend heaving into a toilet bowl and not remembering a thing.
Quite honestly I feel relieved that I am of an age now and a certain level of maturity where I can quite confidently say ‘I won’t be taking part in NekNominate’ no matter how many people ask me. But if I was 18 and on my gap year, or 21 and at Uni, yes I probably would have done. And it almost certainly would have been to my detriment. I can’t see the drinking culture in this country dying down any time soon, I just hope this latest craze phases out quickly before any more awful things happen.