neknominate

#Neknominations: Why South Africans WIN at this (ridiculous) social phenomenon

This week, my Facebook timeline has been taken over by two things:

1) The whole “My Facebook Film” phenomenon, which I actually love more than I would like to admit (that emotive music – it just gets me every time); and

2) #Neknominations. ALL the #neknominations.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept, people who are nominated by friends on Facebook are required to make a short video of themselves downing a drink before nominating two more people to do the same within 24 hours. The concept started in Australia but has spread around the world over the past couple of weeks.

Don’t let the title of this blog post mislead you. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching my timeline fill with people downing drinks in increasingly creative ways. From Power Ranger dance moves to tiger suits, (manual) beer fountains, sheep(ish) farmers, risqué bubble baths and swan dives off boats in exotic locations – it’s been hugely entertaining.

People who are not active on Facebook at all have come to the party, answering their nominations, sometimes most impressively. What interests me is what it takes to get such a vast community of people so actively involved on Facebook, when they are otherwise somewhat indifferent to the platform: the call to down a drink in the most entertaining way, to be watched by, one would hope, by a considerable audience.

Humans are strange creatures.

Don’t get me wrong – I fully include myself in that judgment. Downing a beer and dancing around in a Power Ranger suit while someone dressed as an Arab sits in the corner reading a newspaper, while a cat looks on confusedly? Love it! Play it again! Comment! Like!

But where this social phenomenon really won me over is when people (read: South Africans) starting turning it on its head, harnessing the momentum of a (somewhat ridiculous – let’s be honest) viral movement and adding to the beer-downing-crowd-pleasing nominations the challenge to do some good too.

Most of the #neknominations I’ve watched over the past two days include people handing meals to those who need them, pledging to clothe people in need, give soccer balls to underprivileged kids, or challenging those they nominate to give back in any way they choose. And that’s in addition to the element of the ridiculous that made the #neknomination concept go viral in the first place.

And this is why I love South Africans – a nation full of people who are not shy to look like idiots if it means making someone laugh. People who have such big hearts.

Unfortunately I can’t show you the videos I’ve been loving on Facebook, because, well, Facebook. You know. But here’s the one that started the whole giving back vibe in SA.