News Ian O'Doherty

Thursday 21 August 2014

Who wants to play chicken with the buses? Hello? Anyone

Published 03/07/2014 | 02:30

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Senseless: The online drinking game, Neknomination
Wags: Fiona Lyons and Bruce

You may be able to cast your mind back a few months, when the media craze was the ridiculous proliferation of 'Neknomination' – the online fad which saw people dare each other to enjoy dangerously copious amounts of drink, ideally consumed in as bizarre a location as possible.

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Now, the easiest thing to do as a responsible columnist would be to purse one's lips in a disapproving manner, furrow one's brow and start to behave like the guy from the classic 1936 propaganda movie, Reefer Madness.

In case you have never seen it, and I really recommend you do, Reefer Madness was the first Hollywood warning against weed, on the grounds that simply smoking one joint would be enough to turn you into a drooling, depraved simpleton with no control over your bowels.

Even worse, the movie also promised that smoking a spliff would turn you into a drooling, depraved simpleton with no control over your bowels who also listened to 'negro' music.

In fact, Reefer Madness has permeated every prohibitionist campaign ever since – to the fury of those who want to ban something, and to the delight of those who choose to participate in whatever activity is causing a conniption amongst their elders and betters.

Certainly, as someone who grew up with the first explosion of Irish dance music in the late '80s, the only thing most of the people attending enjoyed more than the E they were dropping was the sight of some hopelessly clueless anti-drugs campaigner warning young people about the dangers of people injecting Ecstasy into their eyeballs. And in one of those historical, pop cultural coincidences that make a columnist seem smart, that movement, like the Reefer Madness craze of 50 years earlier, also linked new music with new drugs.

So, we should always be careful about condemning something out of hand, particularly when the original idea of people being challenged to take a picture of themselves having a beer in an unusual location was no better or no worse than the planking meme, or any other online pursuit. Until the idiots got involved, that is.

Because what went from an interesting and actually fun pastime – bringing a pint of Guinness up to the top of Mount Everest, that sort of thing – soon devolved into who could down a bottle of voddie in a minute flat. And once that target was reached, people then decided to make things even more interesting. Usually by adding a few hapless goldfish into the drink, thus bringing it to a whole new level of dumb and cruel.

But memes, as they do, mutate, and the latest mutation of Neknomination is a true testament to the fact that Mike Judge's Idiocracy looks increasingly like a salutary documentary and not a comedy. Laydeez und genuflects, make I give you 'Punch4Punch', where people – blokes, obviously – swap punches.

Cos you gotta have a laff sometimes, innit?

Punch4Punch claimed its first official victim this week when Tommy Maine, a 23-year-old father-of-one, was rushed to hospital in London after being boxed in the chest by his mate.

Look over that last sentence – a 23-year-old man, who has a kid, died because he allowed one of his mates to punch him as hard as he could. In the chest. On camera. As all his mates continued filming, presumably more concerned with being the first to upload the footage rather than help their friend.

And, just like the stupid, squalid, senseless deaths of grown men in Neknomination, we are now expected to believe that this 23-year-old was a 'victim' of some nefarious online game.

He wasn't a victim of happy slapping, lest we forget. He chose to play a game which sees men punch each other until one gives up, whereupon they must drink a forfeit.

Of course, in this society, nobody is ever actually responsible for what they do.

Instead, we are all expected to engage in public sympathy and tut-tutting, and heaven help you if you point to the great, unspoken truth which everybody secretly feels, but few want to express – if you do intensely stupid things, then intensely stupid things will happen to you.

It is easier to portray everybody as a victim, of course. After all, this is a culture where being an idiot is less of a crime than being 'judgemental'.

But there is one simple reality that these people seeking internet infamy should recognise – The Darwin Awards always has room for one more . . .

DOG-LOVERS OF THE WORLD – OR TALLAGHT – UNITE

What, a week has gone by and there's no apparently gratuitous mention of dogs?

Well, we can't have that, can we? The Blue Cross has already done two Barks in the Park, in St Anne's and Marlay, and this Sunday sees the Bark in the Park in Tymon Park, in Tallaght.

If you hate dogs, this is the place not to be. But for anyone with a dog in South Dublin, this is always a brilliant day out, which raises much-needed funds but, more importantly, is hugely enjoyable for all participants.

Things chew off from 3pm, but the atmosphere is always more of a fun walk than anything strictly scheduled and shouldn't be missed.

I KNEW IT! AND PEOPLE SAID I WAS MAD

Proving that the only people who are truly ethical in this world are Breatharians – those delightfully rational people who think they can survive on fresh air and sunshine (which might explain why there are so few of them in Ireland) comes the news that plants and vegetables 'can hear themselves being eaten.'

The research comes to us courtesy of the University of Missouri, and it claims that plants and vegetables adopt a 'defensive' posture when they pick up vibrations akin to someone eating them.

So, you know that big, tasty salad you had last night? They were all terrified and they knew you were going to eat them, just as you ate the rest of their family that ended up on your plate. And those salad leaves died, masticated and screaming, because of you.

How do you sleep at night?

Honestly, vegetarians disgust me.

Irish Independent

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