Swallowing goldfish, biting heads off baby chickens, and chugging pints of liquor are all part of a new outrageous Australian drinking craze called NekNomination.
But it’s also a deadly trend that has killed at least four people in the U.K. and Ireland.
The online trend originated in Australia, spread to Europe, and now has invaded the Facebook newsfeeds of Canadian youth.
Grant Nych, a 22-year-old Humber advertising student, said he recently started seeing homemade videos pop up on his Facebook.
“Different people I had as friends were drinking booze in some intense way. Personally, I didn’t really care for it,” he said.
The viral videos spread mainly through Facebook where people are able to nominate (tag) friends.
The goal? Try to outdo each other.
Petra Alexis, a registered nurse who works at the Humber Health Centre, said alcohol poisoning is a serious issue.
“When you’re drinking too much alcohol your liver doesn’t have a chance to process everything,” she said. “It goes into your blood and then levels start to become toxic.”
The consumption of alcohol is not illegal if drinkers are of age, but a surplus of booze creates potential dangers.
“The concern comes in when it becomes excessive, the concern comes in when you’re putting yourself into a high risk of having consequences,” said Alexis.
Emma Ferguson, a 20-year-old Kinesiology student at York University, took on a NekNomination challenge.
“It’s terrible that deaths are occurring from something that could just be so simple and fun,” she said. “People are taking it too far, you have to remain within your limits.”
Nych said the dangers paint a sad picture of our society.
Andrew Tibbetts, a Humber counselor, said NekNomination is a challenge to character development.
“From what we know of the adolescent brain, the dopamine system is a bit out of whack, so in that particular time of human life you aren’t the greatest decision maker,” he said.
NekNomination apparently targets youths and a post-secondary school audience, which could explain why people are making the videos.
“You get a lot of interest in the potential thrills of things…and you can’t think of the risks. The pros of situations get really rewarded and the cons get kind of ignored,” said Tibbetts.
“I’m not saying don’t have fun…you’re designed to socialize and enjoy yourself in that area of your life, but be smart about it so you can live to have fun tomorrow as well,” Tibbetts said.