A drinking craze has claimed the lives of two people in the UK and has been linked to the deaths of two others.
So called Neknominate or Neknomination, a derivation of neck and nominate, involves participants downing large amounts of alcohol, often in odd situations, posting a video of themselves on Facebook, and nominating two or more people to continue the game.
Think of it as a chain letter with a pint of cider and a couple of vodka chasers.
Search Facebook for the hashtag #neknominate and you’ll turn up countless examples of people mixing bizarre cocktails and drinking to excess in extreme situations. It’s a window into a dangerous and unsavory aspect of human life online.
Neknominate has spread quickly via social networks leading the mainstream media to label it an Internet-fueled phenomenon.
It is true that the craze has spread quickly as a result of the mobile capture, distribution, and sharing features of social networks but the Internet is a channel and not a cause.
Neknominate is simply the latest in a growing list of Internet pranks from planking to photo-bombing, and from happy slapping to the Harlem Shake.
Creativity is a fundamental part of the human psyche. We adapt new tools and technology and create applications for good and bad.
We can download television and videos on demand but we can also access porn. We can connect with old friends and find new ones but must recognise that not everyone will share our values.
Human creativity is alive and well in its response to the Neknominate or Neknomination craze.
Raknomination challenges people to perform a random act of kindness in a 24 hour period, post details on Facebook and nominate friends to take the challenge.
A search for #Raknomination on Facebook turns up a community of 20,000 people and people offering support for the UK floods, food for homeless people, charitable donations and giving gifts.
The Internet is a mirror of humanity. It is a catalyst for good and bad.
Stephen Waddington is Chairman of Admiral PR, European Digital & Social Media Director at Ketchum and President of the CIPR. Author of Brand Anarchy and Brand Vandals; and editor and contributor to Share This and Share This Too.