Kelly Frevele, a sophomore political science major, is a staff writer currently studying abroad in Brighton, England this spring.
A new trend with deadly consequences is sweeping social media. Recently in the United Kingdom, a drinking challenge claimed the lives of at least five young adults.
Called Neknomination, it involves young adults challenging one another to drink mixed alcoholic beverages in a time span under three minutes.
The participant is filmed by their friends taking part in the challenge. The video shows the participant concocting an alcoholic drink mixed with other substances such as coffee, energy drinks or vinegar among other things. Some Facebook groups are dedicated to posting such videos.
After the participant consumes the entire drink, they nominate one or more people to accept the challenge and continue the competition.
Those challenged are notified through a tagged post and have 24 hours to complete the task.
The act of consuming the alcohol can be as extreme as the concoction itself. One Facebook video showed a young male drinking out of a toilet while being held upside down.
According to multiple United Kingdom news outlets, like BBC and The Daily Mirror, people are urging the social media sites to take action to prevent the spread of the game, which many believe originated in Australia.
This may be too little too late, though. The videos have gone viral and now expand outside of the United Kingdom.
“I was nominated by my roommate, but I didn’t accept,” Hunter Holland, a freshman economics major at University of Southern California and a Long Island native, said. “I actually just didn’t do it because I simply didn’t have the time yesterday and the challenge is to do something in 24 hours.”
The most recent death from this trend, as reported by “The Independent,” was of 20-year-old Bradley Eames, an English citizen, who died after downing two pints of gin.
The psychology behind completing this challenge appears to be the classic one of peer pressure, but with a new twist.
“We know that humans have a powerful need to be socially accepted which is what drives peer pressure but not it is not limited to be accepted to an isolated group,” Lara Hunter, Stony Brook University’s alcohol and substance abuse counselor, said. “It’s the need to be accepted by potentially the world via the Internet.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. government guidelines for alcohol consumption say that the average male should only consume what is equivalent to about two drinks per day per week.
What the participants of the videos are doing is equivalent to a week’s worth of drinks in only a few minutes time.
“Too much alcohol too soon is deadly,” Hunter said “What’s also deadly is performing high risk tasks under the influence of alcohol, as once someone is intoxicated they can’t perform those same tasks with accuracy and put themselves at risk for severe injuries and death from things like falling, drowning, etc.”
So far there is no evidence to show that the social media sites have taken action or responded to this issue.