A potentially dangerous new online video trend where people down alcoholic drinks in sometimes increasingly extreme ways, then challenge friends to do the same, is growing in popularity across the globe.
The trend is called "neknominate" and it has reached Canada. There are hundreds of videos of people neknominating on YouTube and Facebook, some of which have more than 100,000 views each.
People record themselves chugging or “necking” — usually beer — often doing something else extreme at the same time. Then they nominate others to out-drink them.
One example shows a man drinking beer from a toilet while being held upside down then nominating friends to perform the challenge. In another, a man chugs an entire 750 millilitre bottle of vodka.
Chuck Teed, a Saint John music teacher at the Interaction School of Performing Arts, is growing concerned with the escalation he is witnessing in the videos. For instance, one posted in New Brunswick shows someone drinking a pint of hard liquor.
Teed said he has started recognizing New Brunswick students he knows in the videos, including some who are underage.
“I've seen, coming through my news feed, probably at least a half a dozen, to a dozen. And then there's a lot more out there that I haven't watched,” he said.
“If you think about the people that are university-aged, they're going to have friends in high school. They're probably going to dare people from high school to do it. And then those people aren't that far removed from somebody in junior high. So you know, the age gets younger as the limits get pushed.”
Peer pressure concerning
Const. Cory Jamieson has been the Saint John Police Force's Drug Abuse Resistance Education coordinator for the last 10 years.
He hadn't heard of neknominating until CBC News showed him one of the videos posted to YouTube.
“Very disturbing for me to stand here and watch,” he said.
The D.A.R.E. program teaches young students how to avoid peer pressure, drugs, and alcohol. Part of that is telling kids how to say no.
Jamieson said the peer pressure element to neknominating is concerning.
“Young bodies are still growing, still developing and alcohol is not designed for those young bodies. And quite frankly, I've seen through my service as an officer while dealing with young people, they can get highly intoxicated very quickly based on their size,” he said.
Teed worries about the kids he sees and wonders if they know it’s not just their health they're risking but their reputations — by posting videos that will live online forever.
As with many internet memes, the origin of neknominate is contentious. Some claim the trend began in Australia. In the U.K. it’s known as “neck and nominate” with some reports saying it has been played in Cambridge, England since 2008.