You may have heard of the new social media 'craze' called #NEKnominate where someone lovingly 'nominates' a person they know to down a drink which is usually a pint in volume. What started as a bit of fun has classically spiralled out of control with a new element of competition to it. From a pint of beer, turned to a pint of something much more lethal like vodka or whisky or in some cases; urine. It did indeed prove lethal to the point people now dying as a result of their dare. The first British death was reported recently but has had little effect to slow the chain of dares or to make people think about what they are doing.
My problem is that there is nothing cool about downing a pint. 'It's just a laugh'. Fine. But doesn't make you cool. Wow, you can physically consume a pint of something with a camera on you. I guess you don't see the subsequent spewing that will surely be ensue. I must admit some are quite funny in how they are presented, with the pint drinking a small part of it. Coming out the bath in a tux or swimming out of the North Sea in the winter, that's well thought out and funny.
But is it really a challenge? Is it worth the effort?
I propose an alternative that really is a challenge, is actually productive and is, well, nice. I DARE you to say something nice about someone in a picture or a video publicly and then #nicenominate them to do the same. The same format as the drinking game but for an effect.
In a society that has so many issues with body image and self-confidence, which leads to a huge but largely undescribed link to adverse mental health. Bulimia, anorexia, depression are to barely scratch the surface of conditions. We are bombarded with what we are 'supposed' to look like which many are of course not on the same level as. Even those select beautiful, the pressure to stay looking that way is immense. I'm not getting carried away thinking this affects all of us, but is certainly an issue for a distinct proportion, and also far worse for women.
So back to #nicenominate. This is a campaign adopted by a few organisation which Sexpression:UK is one of, and aims to tackle these issues. It may not do anything, but unlike the politicians that vote against so many promising bills, we are going to give it a try. How often do you say to your friends that you like something about them? Without actually telling them, unless you have honed your telepathy skills or had a 'What Women Want' accident in the bath, then you're not going to know. It's actually quite hard to be so nice to someone publicly and that is something that should be easy!
Photo by Charlotte Hayden
Yesterday, a small group of us in Leicester shacked up in our students' union armed with a whiteboard, a camera and a load of cakes to give away for free, in return for a #nicenomination. Firstly what struck us was the sheer difficulty people faced opening up and writing something kind about someone they knew. Those that took part wrote a variety of statements directed at friends, family, colleagues about everything from appearance to personal qualities or even just a simple 'thanks for being you'. One that stuck out was from a seasoned Sexpressioner simply saying 'Sophie, you are amazing!' The photo appeared on Facebook, shortly followed by a comment by Sophie simply saying 'crying!!' However humble we may be, a compliment or a kind word said about someone can bring a smile to their face, can make their day, can help them through depression and just make them feel worthwhile.
Go on, make someone's day. Do something to help people keep faith in humanity. Say something nice about someone you fancy as a route to their heart. Have a great reason to procrastinate. Be part of something fun for Good Deed Day on 24th February. Give a homeless person some food. Donate a pint of blood. Get someone some chocolate. Do a random act of kindness to someone you don't know. Simply tell someone in the pub they're awesome.
All photos by Charlotte Hayden