I #NekNominate You All To Grow Up

The internet is great. Use it properly.

I recently saw an article in The Metro ( I was commuting like an adult) about a new craze sweeping the internet. I had seen one #NekNominate video on my Facebook feed, but assumed it was just some fad for ‘uni lads’ and that I’d not see it again. And then it started. People I know, people older than me, and most upsetting of all, people I like, started posting videos of themselves doing that most riveting of acts: Drinking. But no, not just any drinking: Drinking fairly quickly. The internet has been used to spread some incredibly amusing, powerful and sometimes life-changing content. So surely we can be a bit more creative than a video of someone downing a drink?

Of course I have some options. I could stop being so boring. I could choose not to watch the videos. I could unfriend ‘offenders.’ These are all valid, but as we all know, the internet can be a dangerous place, and can have a far more widespread and pernicious effect than making a man in his mid-twenties a bit grumpy.

Students, lad culture, rugby teams, idiots. They’ve all been around for a while. However, now more than ever they have an online soapbox from which to propagate their idiocy. What was once confined to halls of residence and club houses, hidden from the outside world, is now peppering my Mum’s Facebook feed. Parents should never know what we did at university. Ever.

But beyond all of this trivial broadcasting of idiots lies the real danger, the results of which have made many a recent front page headline. Several young people have died, apparently as a direct result of trying to ‘outperform’ their nominator. Teenagers have enough to worry about without fears of cyberbulling and online peer pressure. Perhaps I was lucky to grow up in the age of the Nokia 3210. My only worry about technology was whether my next phone would have polyphonic ringtones.

Let’s not be too harsh on the internet, however. Thankfully some have used the Neknominate phenomenon to spread powerful messages. (Or at least in the case of one woman to amuse us by riding a horse into a supermarket.) Many videos have gone viral on Youtube and elsewhere, where the protagonists have used their nominations to spread goodwill, an act which has thankfully caught on.

What this all shows us is not that the internet is changing us, just that everything is visible. Teenagers have always experimented with alcohol. People have always shown kindness to others. Nowadays, every instance of either extreme is broadcast to the world. If we focussed on sharing the positive effects of viral media, we may well just change something. If we continue to focus on the dangerous and downright stupid side of the internet, the neotenous retention of adolescent peer pressure may spread like a Twitter meme. Or in short, stop giving morons attention and they might just grow out of it. Please, let’s all use the internet properly.

I #NekNominate you all to grow up. You have 24 hours.


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