Sunday, May 19Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986


A recent epidemic has left the nation wide-eyed and retching. With sales of Stella Artois, Soy Sauce and baby food at an all time high, biological laws have been challenged regarding how much curdled milk the body can really consume without vomiting. Sound bizarre? Not if you’re one of the unlucky few that has had a #NekNomination, the controversial online drinking challenge that has permeated Facebook.

On the day of writing this, I have seen eight such nominations on my Facebook Newsfeed. And admittedly, I have watched all of them. I can’t work out whether I find them hilarious or repulsive thus far, but I do know that there is a part of me that always hopes that the next one I watch is a little more gross than the last. Twisted I know, but such expectations are obviously acknowledged by those drinking the alcohol-based concoctions. How could they be ignored when their audience is potentially millions of people online? It is arguably this element of the drinking craze that makes NekNominations different from the games of Fuzzy Duck or Ring of Fire you play with friends. Facebook has provided the ultimate stage on which to be seen.

It has been reported that since the game has gathered momentum, three British males have tragically lost their lives trying to perform stunts that rival those online. In spite of this, NekNominations continue to be given, and people continue to accept them. Exact reasons as to why are not apparent, but what’s for sure is that the game is a chance for hundreds of your online ‘friends’ to see what a bantering hard-ass you really are. If this means downing a pint of Sambuca and gravy granules, so be it. At least you’ll be remembered for thirty seconds as the guy on Facebook with the sturdiest stomach in Surrey. Better that, than the guy that was cowered over the toilet for an hour afterwards.

While concerns have understandably been raised with regards to the drinking habits of a generation, I feel that the concept of NekNominations goes beyond this, and epitomises how obsessed we have become with our online image. Bizarre as it may seem, there is a novelty in the ability to consume a dirty pint with ease and style; so if we can share this online, why not? Surely we would want everyone else to see how brilliant we are too? Whether it’s choosing to show the NekNomination but not the aftermath, or untagging yourself from 40 out of 45 pictures from a night out, we are dictating how we want to be seen online. We choose the kind of life we want our Facebook friends to think we have. In an article for the university website, academic Victoria Mapplebeck from Royal Holloway, poised it as “a culture of narcissism” in which we have “become our own spin doctors”, and to be honest I don’t think she’s far off. With all of its ever-expanding utilities, Facebook has become one of the most powerful ways for people to be seen, consequentially amplifying peer pressure like never before. We feel obliged to share a selfie in the most insignificant of situations, take a picture of food before we can eat it, and hashtag incessantly in the hope that someone, anyone, will find you under #lookatmeinmyhotnewdress and gaze at you with lust and jealousy.

It’s easy to point the finger at Facebook if you’re looking for the bad guy. We’re the civilians, the underdogs, how can we ever have any control over these multi-billion dollar enterprises? But the thing is, we do. There’s no obligation to tell everyone what we had for breakfast this morning, who we’re spending our day with, or even that we can drink a dirty pint in thirty seconds flat. We choose to do these things because we feel we should, and that’s the point of peer pressure. The difference with Facebook is that if we wanted to, we could just turn it off. What’s stopping you?

Author: Hannah Partridge