Are today’s youth pushing the boundaries further than we ever did?
Following reports that people are tragically losing their lives in the NekNomination craze that is sweeping the internet via Social Media such as Facebook and Twitter, former alcoholic and now ‘Sober Coach’ and Director of Sober Services, Ian Young, provides his views on what this latest fad says about the thrill-seeking youth of today and questions whether they really are worse than the youth of previous decades.
I’m really saddened to learn of the tragic deaths of young people who’ve been participating in the NekNomination craze, as I suspect everyone is. Certainly, judging by the media’s coverage of this, it’s taking its toll, with four suspected NekNomination deaths attributed to it in the UK within the past four weeks, which seems high.
And whilst I’m tempted to start comparing the statistics of deaths relating to NekNominations versus people losing their lives through other means and circumstances, I don’t think this really contributes to the debate. What I will simply say that alcohol is one of the big three killers in the country – fact!
Nicotine related illness, heart and obesity related illness (caused by high sugar consumption predominately) and alcohol are the three big killers in our country, and so these participants in NekNominations are simply rolling the dice and engaging in a life challenging dare, which their juvenile experience tells them only happens to other, older, less healthy people.
Which leads me to calculating that there continues to be a real ignorance when it comes to the reality of alcohol abuse. What is perhaps most concerning is the very evident peer pressure to drink wild and disgusting mixes which would normally never been consumed, all in the name of competition. The ’24 hours or else’ deadline forces those who normally would not comply to dabble in drinking habits that they more often than not simply are not used to tolerating.
I’m sure many don’t really want to participate, but feel they have to, to avoid getting a roasting for ‘chickening out’, and to feel like they’re part of a particular social scene.
It’s the fact that our youth often feel they can’t stand up and say, I’m not going to do that and I’m ok with it, which is more of an issue to me than whether they can physically drink a pint of lager, coke, raw egg and ketchup or whatever bizarre concoction they choose (did I hear crushed sheep medication?).
That all said, are they really much worse than we were in our heyday? I guess looking back at my own experiences and considering the stupid and reckless things I used to get up in the name of ‘fun’ and pushing my experiential boundaries, one thing that strikes me is just how the times are still changing, becoming ever more intense and instant excitement driven.
The ability of someone to just sit still and enjoy the moment is becoming increasingly difficult as society and our peers demand more and more of our attention. Things designed to distract us have become increasingly addictive and aimed precisely at our pleasure centres, rendering tranquilly and serenity increasingly aloof and difficult to attain, particularly as a teenager or young adult.
So NekNominations are the latest craze that’s having some devastating results on our young people trying to grow up too fast and seek significance from their peers.
Is it just a phase that will pass by?
Yes I believe so.
But I also believe there’ll be something to replace it with that’s even more terrifying and devastating. That’s how life and society seem to be accelerating these days. Who’s to say or imagine what’s next? In my heyday 15 to 20 years ago, we’d think nothing of eating multiple ecstasy pills and going dancing for a couple of days non-stop.
Did it harm us?
Possibly – the jury is still out there on that one in particular.
Did we have tragic death by misadventure in our times?
Well yes, but maybe not so reported or as obviously related to our habits and behaviours. Certainly not because of a craze picked up via the Internet, which didn’t exist yet.
Back in the day, ravers were reckless, but the youth of any age are reckless.
Were we as reckless as this the current youth?
So potentially the real game changer here are the more modern and technologically driven methods of communication – the rise of the internet and social media, as a way of reaching out to more people across the planet connecting youth culture and challenging a whole generation to explore it’s latest trends whether they are pop music, fashion or reckless behaviours.
The Internet is so prevalent in everyone’s lives today, that with so many new and easier levels of global communication and interaction the message gets out to an increased percentage of the audience, considerably faster and substantially further, thus manifesting so many more tragic endings, often with an increased media attention.
It’s the return of the shock jocks all over again.
So, maybe the focus needs to be less on NekNominations and more on what it tells us about what is making our society tick at the moment?
Let’s tell the story about premature death and how alcohol, sugar and nicotine are cutting off the length and quality of all our western societies citizens, whatever their age and whether they participate in a one-off NekNomination or have a long-standing battle with addiction.
Let’s tell the story about lack of confidence and self-value that many of our young people feel today and how we can empower them to not follow the crowd and dance to their own tune in life, regardless of what people think.
Let’s talk about injecting a new sense of enjoyment and satisfaction into life that doesn’t revolve around the constant buzz of technology or the need to try and be better than someone else, but stems from just being happy with living, breathing and enjoying the trials and tribulations that make life what it is.
Sounds too much like a fairy-tale?
Perhaps, but I think we could all benefit from taking the long view on this one and take positive steps towards a healthier life for ourselves, our children and for society as a whole – Alcohol, Nicotine and Sugar – the 3 biggest contributors towards a shortened life span.
You can find out more about Ian Young’s personal transformation from chronic alcoholic and addict in his book “It’s Not About Me! – Confessions of a Recovered Outlaw Addict, from Living Hell to LivingBig” published by Panoma Press.
You can connect with Ian via www.soberservices.co.uk