There have been lots of headlines about the Nek Nominate craze in the past week, and plenty of people and organisations weighing into the argument about what it all means and how it can be stopped.

For those that don’t know, it is a craze where people film themselves drinking ridiculous/dangerous concoctions, and then nominate another candidate to do the same, usually with increased risk and quantity of booze.

The media loves this sort of story. It is a recognisable craze, which comes with its own shocking footage, and the deaths that have been associated with it are genuinely alarming. Added to that, it is a craze which has floated up from the murkier depths of the internet, which always makes it a story. Maybe it is even tempting to imagine that without these new technologies, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

The phenomenon was supposed to have started as a joke in Australia, another nation with a fixation on drinking bravado, though perhaps not as heavy drinking on us (more on geography to come in a later post).

There have been calls for Facebook and Twitter to intervene in some way. I doubt whether this would actually be effective however, and any warning messages might even encourage it more.

It’s a long time since I would have contemplated drinking two pints of gin, and even when I did, it would have been over a (reasonably) longer period of time than the seconds it takes to down them. I still can’t help but think such things take hold in cultures which already have a bravado around drinking.

Why wouldn’t this take off on the internet, in a place where people routinely get bullied into doing shots on a Friday night, or even drinking in rounds, which generally pushes everyone to drink at the same pace as the fastest person?

It’s time, gentlemen


Bottle pic:Arnaud Spani/Creative Commons

One year and a half ago, my time was up. I stopped drinking. What you won’t find here are tales of unparalelled degradation, endless near-death experiences, the feted rock bottom with all its vicarious thrills. What I want to do is find an outlet for those feelings which no one wants to listen to, at least not outside of an AA meeting. For whatever reason (more later), I decided not to join AA, so those tales of shame, frustration and loneliness go largely untold.

The tale that is on my mind right now as I’m considering why I decided to do this is not something dramatic like that, but its opposite – boredom. When I was a student and I went out with an alcoholic boy, as if dipping my toes in the water, my mother suggested maybe it was boredom which turned him to drink. It had never occurred to me, as I was already deep in the culture of therapy, and searching for the meaning of every act in childhood trauma. It seemed disingenuous to suggest that people drank simply because there was a lot of time to fill.

Cut to a few years later, and one of those sprawling drunken days, which lurch from pub to cafe to pub again, with shambolic attempts at catching public transport and paying for things with credit cards which were already maxed out. My pals and I decided the problem with life wasn’t that it was too short, it was that it was too long. With all that time to fill it was no wonder people lost their focus, feeling they were drowning in time, with no idea how to fill it. It seemed as good a reason as any to douse oneself in alcohol, hoping that the next time you looked the clock would have moved on somewhat.

There are times now when I am bitterly aware of that ticking clock, as it never spares me a second of its passing. It turned out there was no escape from time, no wormhole to climb into and escape for a while. Every bit of it counted after all. Hope you enjoy the document, folks.