Neknominations: from boozing to giving in the “nek” of time

Article by Lizl Lombaard and Oreneile Tshetlo /
Perdeby /
February 17, 2014 /
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Drinking games can be awesome for many reasons, including serving as an icebreaker. Usually they result in embarrassing escapades which, if witnessed beyond the confines of four walls, could get you into some serious trouble. So what happens when this drinking game turns into a recorded extreme sport which goes viral?

Neck and Nominate, commonly shortened to NekNominate, is a drinking game in which individuals or groups film themselves downing alcoholic beverages before, after or during an extreme activity. Participants then challenge specific individuals to out-do their attempt.

Although the origins of this drinking game are uncertain, according to CBC News, incidents from as early as 2008 in Cambridge, England have been reported.

A Facebook page entitled “Neknomination” has been created and is dedicated to showcasing instances of necking and nominating.
According to Mirror News, up to this point, the deaths of two people have been linked to this craze. Ross Cummins, aged 22, was found dead in a Dublin house in the early hours of 1 February after apparently partaking in the social media drinking game. Jonny Byrne from Leighlinbridge, who died at age 19 from this challenge, was washed away by a river after downing spirits on the same evening as Cummins’s death.

Dr Lauren Rosewarne, social media expert at Melbourne University, says that while the escapade is seemingly harmless, there are implications involved, one being that these videos may be found by prospective employers who google you for background information. She is of the opinion that videos live on forever and your reputation is at stake.

Recently, however, this trend has proven to be reputable. South Africans have found a way to turn “wine into water” as they have turned this social media drinking game into a social media charity initiative. Like the social media drinking game which went viral, here in South Africa the new idea of posting a video of yourself doing a random act of kindness and then nominating other people to do the same has changed the game of the original Neknomination overnight.

The person who has tipped the scale is Brent Lindeque from Johannesburg. After receiving a Neknomination from a friend in Australia, Lindeque said he knew he needed to do something different. He found it worrying that people were posting videos online doing embarrassing things where everyone could see them. “Here’s the thing about posting stuff online, anything you post on social media is legally binding. If you don’t believe it, ask Justine Succo who is no longer welcome at her job, on Twitter or in Africa,” says Lindeque. (Justine Sacco used to be the communication director of New York-based Interactive Corp (IAC), but was fired after a racist tweet she made went viral.)

Instead of doing something that could potentially ruin his career, Lindeque used this platform to give back. This pioneer decided to give lunch to someone less fortunate than him and posted a video of it on YouTube and now, 400 000 views later, Lindeque has sparked the #ChangeOneThing campaign that has inspired many other South Africans to give back. “In one week, #ChangeOneThing has evolved from a video, to a hashtag, to becoming a real foundation for charities in South Africa and maybe even the world,” Lindeque said of the campaign.

This proves once again the immense potential that social media has in changing lives. Maxine Ross, a 15-year-old who was also inspired by Lindeque’s video, donated books to underprivileged children after a friend nominated her. There are many others like her. Durbanite Andrew Donkin also posted a video of himself giving a homeless man food while in Cape Town. Andrew Ross’s video shows him giving footballs to children living in a township.

Another video shows business partners, Robbie Ragless and Yakeen Sadiq, from Ragstar Media and New World Immigration respectively, buying Nando’s meals for 90 children at the Masikhululeke Educare Centre in Joe Slovo Park, Cape Town. They then nominated Nando’s to do the same. Nando’s has responded to their challenge and had one week to fulfil it.
With the new trend being called NekNation it seems countries abroad have also risen to the occasion. UK NekNation videos have been posted to YouTube and news outlets in the US have also reported on the trend.

Closer to home, some residences at Tuks have caught on to the giving trend. The residents of some of Tuks’s male reses have filmed themselves helping the needy instead of ordinarily drowning their sorrows.
The residents of the Republic of Olienhout carried out a NekNation of their own. The men sang their war cry before each guzzling down a beer. They proceeded to explaining that “The real part of this res nomination is to donate something to someone less privileged than you.” They then Neknominated the Republic of Kollegetehuis and Helshoogte (a res in Stellenbosch) and gave them 24 hours to follow suit.

The female reses have also jumped on the bandwagon. Robyn Schormann, a second-year BCom Marketing Management student, nominated her residence Nerina to do a charitable deed. Their Rag HK, Camillia Allen, says that their Neknomination, unlike those of the male residences, “wasn’t [about] drinking but collecting food and giving it to the less fortunate”. According to Allen, footage of the first part of their nomination is available on YouTube, but the house is yet to complete the second part of the challenge. Nerina, in turn, nominated Huis Nerina in Stellenbosch and Tuks’s Maroela, giving them 24 hours to carry out the challenge.

With reses taking their charity Neknominations seriously, it has the potential to become a permanent Rag project that calls on reses all over the country to partake in a giant Rag project. Although the NekNation trend may taper off, we can only hope that Lindeque’s trend that spread like wildfire does not die down.