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#neknomination: A Dangerous New Trend

Believed to have originated in Australia, #NeKnomination is the latest viral craze for young people on social networking sites.The rise in popularity of energy drinks and snacks is phenomenal and seems to be a growing industry that encompasses everything from new and innovative ways to prepare and serve coffee to gummy bears infused with caffeine. In the fast paced, high energy world of competitive business, more and more people are putting in 10+ hours a day at the work place believing that to do less is to risk failure in a chosen profession. One-hour lunches are increasingly becoming ten minutes at the desk – a quick sandwich and energy bar with an eye on the computer. Two or three red bulls spread out over the day to supplement the three or four cups of coffee in order to avoid a “natural” lag in energy is becoming the norm. The ad campaigns promoting these energy products suggest an immediate “boost” in not only physical stamina, but in mental clarity as well. For the ambitious professional this is hard to resist. More productivity leads to more money, which leads to a better quality of life – or so the story goes. But, energy Gummy Bears? How many wall street professionals are more attracted to the chewy candy than they are to the more mature looking (and tasting) energy bars and power drinks (though many of these products seem to be marketed with a certain juvenilia intent as well)? And are there health risks involved with these products – and are those risks higher for teenagers and children?

Believed to have originated in Australia, #NeKnomination is the latest viral craze for young people on social networking sites. The game consists of taking a video of yourself while drinking a substantial amount of alcohol, posting said video and then “nominating” a friend of yours to do the same via hashtag (#). Some versions of the game require that after drinking the alcoholic beverage the person taking a video of themselves does something “extreme” like jump off a roof or drink in the middle of the highway, anything goes so long as it's dangerous. The game has officially claimed two deaths so far, one of which involved a young man jumping into a river in Ireland.

#NekNomination may very well be the new car surfing, or an attempt to imitate the popular "JackAss" stunts, it has health Canada and other similar organizations world wide urging people not to bow to peer pressure. While a large number of these videos have emerged on Facebook, the staff insist that these videos are not in violation of their policy. The social networking site does not believe anyone's privacy has been violated, nor does it believe that this type of material is offensive to other users.

The "kids will be kids" cliché may not be the right attitude to approach this problem. Indeed it is a fad that will no doubt pass, but the fact is it's dangerous, and let's face it, stupid. There are already reported deaths, and no doubt an even larger number who have become sick as a result of the alcohol and other substances mixed in (reportedly: white out, cat food and shampoo), not to mention the possibility of injuries related to the ridiculous stunts performed under the influence of the alcohol. It may be time to give the old peer pressure speech again to the kids out there, because it's not only the kids' friends pressuring them anymore, it's thousands (if not more) of kids worldwide via the internet.

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