Why is my Facebook filled with neknominate videos?

Great Gatsby

As someone who is quite heavily involved in the drinks industry I always feel a certain sense of responsibility and obligation when around alcohol. A lot of the time this is simply ensuring that folk who attend my tastings don’t knock their whisky back in one go and move on swiftly to the next. Perhaps more importantly, however, is the moral obligation. This responsibility isn’t restricted to my professional capacity when hosting tastings, it can kick in at any time from having a quiet pint with my old man to going to a flat party with a bunch of mates. Hopefully they all know how to handle alcohol (particularly my old man, he’s had way more practice than me!) but if things do go a bit pear-shaped, I at least make sure they’re bundled safely into the back of a taxi and sent home with a bottle of water in hand.

Now without trying to be a kill joy here, I know virtually everyone who reads this blog will recall at least one instance when they’ve had to hold a friend’s hair back while they’re ridding themselves of toxins the quick way, and will therefore identify with the ‘moral obligation’ I’ve raised, which brings me to the point of this article.

Most of us will have heard about the recent ‘neknominate’ craze currently spreading like wildfire on social media. For those unfamiliar with the concept, it’s a chain mail type phenomenon whereby someone receives a nomination from a friend to down (or ‘nek’) a drink. This person then has to film themselves doing it and post it on Facebook before ‘neknominating’ someone else to do the same. A quick look at my Facebook homepage earlier this week showed that 25 of my friends had posted videos of themselves participating in neknominations in the space of 24 hours. Perhaps that’s more a reflection of the standard of my friends than anything else, but let’s move on.

Buckfast: a binge drinker’s favourite north of the border.

I’m all for crazy parties (much like those thrown by Leo in The Great Gatsby, top) and dancing like a loon in a club until 3am, but when a trend like this goes global and endangers young lives (also look at the planking craze which went viral a little while back), as seen by several young deaths in Ireland, surely common sense must prevail? Across the entire drinks industry, from campaigns by huge corporations right down to individual bartenders, there has a been a persistent and concerted effort to ensure those of us who take a tipple know the safe limits of alcohol and the consequences of exceeding them. One of my favourite ad campaigns in this regard comes from Heineken, and you can check out one of their ads here. Now I’m not saying I’ve never had one too many (the upcoming blog birthday will testify to that) but at the same time there’s not a hope I’d consider downing half a pint of whisky (or even a 25ml shot, the liquid on my shelves is too good for that), or half a bottle of wine, or an entire bottle of Buckfast in one go.

Although alcohol-related discharges from hospitals have decreased year on year for the past five years, my question is (and it’s not rhetorical, feel free to comment below), have the government’s and drinks industry’s attempts to promote responsible drinking really got through to younger drinkers? Data would suggest that overall alcohol consumption is on the decline, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s not necessarily how much we drink, but how we drink it. Two people can each consume 20 units in one week, but if one person spreads it over four days then they’re not doing the same amount of damage to themselves as someone who consumes the whole lot between 8pm and midnight on a Saturday night. Binge drinking is still a big problem, and from the recent state of my Facebook homepage I’m inclined to say it’s, sadly, more fashionable than ever.



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