Neknominating - Why It's Here And How To End It

London, UK: 11 February 2014 – The relatively new but increasingly dangerous phenomenon known as "neknominating" combines extreme drinking with the promise of validation via social media, to present a major threat to youth culture, acccording to Social Futurist Mal Fletcher.

In a paper published today by the London-based Think Tank 2020Plus, Fletcher argues that neknomination mixes a natural youthful drive for experimentation, a drink-and-dare culture and the offer of peer acceptance via social networking, to create a recipe for disaster.

Neknominating feeds into youthful feelings of invulnerability. For those who don't die on the spot, extreme drinking will nonetheless represent a mortal danger as irreparable damage can be done to internal organs. Nominees are also often required to perform risky activities while under the influence.

Meanwhile social media, for all their benefits, provide peer acclaim and a cultural bubble for members of the teens-and-20s Millennial generation. They allow a space in which young adults can cut out people who might offer checks and balances when it comes to risky behaviour.

"Millennials are the world's first digital natives," he says. "They've grown up with binary technologies in a truly symbiotic relationship. So much of their human interaction is conducted via digital media that it's becoming relatively easy to disconnect from the physical world and from a sense of perspective."

"Linked to the false sense of familiarity - and therefore safety - created by social media is the growing challenge of shortened attention spans. Millennials value time as a currency. They want to grab as many experiences as they can as 'cheaply' as they can, with the smallest possible expenditure of time."

As a result of shortened attention, he argues, and the promise of notoriety offered online, many young adults spend little time thinking about long-term, unintended consequences. That's part of the danger of neknominating.

In addressing neknominating, governments and local authorities must do more to educate people about the risks of alcohol abuse. However, much of the solution begins in the home.

"Even in today's hyper-connected age, parents have more influence than they realise, particularly in shaping attitudes to alcohol and the internet."

"Studies show that the first experience many teenagers have with alcohol is in the home, with the encouragement of their parents, who see this as a right of passage. This attitude of endorsement can be dangerous. Teenagers will often take accepted behaviours further, because they feel invulnerable."

"Parents can also remind teenagers that not everything digital is desirable. If necessary, to protect their children, parents should 'interfere' in their digital space, demanding to know where they're spending time online. Parents who refuse to take this risk are, in a sense, teaching their children that autonomy is possible without accountability."

Mal Fletcher, a Social Commentator, leads the 2020Plus Think Tank based in London. Originally from Australia, he is widely broadcast and published, has researched social trends for two decades and is a regular commentator for the BBC and other media outlets.

His article, Neknomination: Why It's Here and How to End It is published at 2020Plus.

© Copyright with Mal Fletcher

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