This week brings with it the third death by neknomination.
Not the last though. Obviously.
Presumably you don't wile away your days locked in a sensory deprivation tank so you know what neknominate is. But on the off chance you don't:
It's a 21st century version of playing Dare, except that all the Dares are drink-based. It's not exactly new, but it's really just now catching on in the UK. When a person is nominated they have to down a drink deemed daring in a venue or manner worthy of filming. They do it, film it, upload it, share it, then nominate two other people to follow suite.
Some of the drinks are just f*cking stupid. Live goldfish, the random contents of a fridge. It just screams boredom really. But this is the UK so it was always going to focus on our particular extreme pastime of excellence.
Kids and young adults all over the nation are picking up bottles of spirits and downing them like pop.
And why shouldn't they? Have we taught them any better?
We are raising young people in a society that conditions them to buy as much as they can for as cheaply as they can get it. Clothes. Food. Alcohol. Quantity over quality. Every time.
We bombard them with reality TV shows that feature endless excerpts of highly edited drinking scenes-but rarely the after effects. We refuse to link the action of drinking with its natural consequences.
We are a nation of terrible communicators. Our refusal to have a sensible conversation about the dangers of alcohol abuse means we raise our children to think there are none.
We did this. We created the perfect environment for neknominate. The least we can do is hold ourselves accountable for it.
People die all the time from drinking alcohol. Stag do's are the most dangerous example of ignorance around lethal alcohol consumption. What's the difference between a stag do and neknominate?
The very nature of neknominate means action and consequence are both captured on social networking sites. In real time.
The creators of neknominate have done us a massive favour. There are not enough financial resources in our country to take on the alcohol industry. We have a government too dependant on them to protect us with any new laws, (or hell, just not reneging on promises of old ones). We have an no space in our school curriculum or funds in the NHS to raise accurate awareness of the dangers of drinking.
But thanks to neknominate it's being done for us. For free. On platforms accessible enough for us all to see. Neknominate is the alcohol industry's worst PR nightmare, performed on a gargantuan scale that will do them more damage than any change to minimum unit pricing could have hoped for.
It's also a golden opportunity for us to start talking to young people. Actually having an open dialogue about what is a safe amount to drink.
It's time to admit that if we'd done our job and made kids aware that alcohol is dangerous, we would never be in this position. To stop blaming them. Because we teach them prescription drugs are dangerous to ingest. We keep them locked away out of reach. And kids get that.
Have you seen a teenager's Neknominate video featuring the contents of a bathroom cabinet yet? Do you think you might if you'd kept your dangerous drugs in your dining room on display in decanters their whole lives?
It is horrible that people have died from a f*cked up drinking game. But it's more f*cked up that we taught them alcohol is a thing to be played with in the first place.
It's time we started taking responsibility for the mess we have made. And time we started thanking the young people who refuse to hide their ignorance about alcohol behind closed doors.
Because that's what makes us the most outraged. Not these senseless deaths. Or how much this incessant need to be seen is hurting our babies. It's that every young person who participates in neknominate is exposing their parents' attitude to alcohol and to communication at home.
A secret shame that is no longer our secret to keep.