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If you haven’t heard of the binge drinking movement, “I’m Shmacked,” you probably haven’t been near a university in a long time. The popular video franchise travels to college campuses all over the United States, films drinking parties, and then posts the edited content online. Many of the videos have gone viral, amassing an enormous following for the creators.
The first “I’m Shmacked” video went up on YouTube over two years ago, and “Shmacked” was named the 2012 College Word of the Year, according to their website. Take a look at the social media numbers and you’ll see the franchise has nearly 100,000 likes on its Facebook fan page, more than 40,000 subscribers on its YouTube channel, and 109,000 followers on Twitter. And that’s just today. These numbers are quickly growing and only represent people who have taken the time to subscribe or follow the videos. Financial investors, however, understand the actual reach of this alcohol-fueled content.
The franchise, which just announced it’s been valued at $5 million, recently took $550,000 in seed money from an unknown partner, in order to expand its operations. The problem for college students, their families and administrators, though, is the rise in the dangerous consequences of binge-drinking.
Getting “shmacked,” according to Urban Dictionary, is defined as “becoming intoxicated to the point of not even being able to stand up, know what’s going on, or correctly pronounce any word.” This is a pretty sad condition to be in when you consider there are more than 85,000 deaths a year due to excessive alcohol use.
So far, no deaths have been attributed to “I’m Shmacked,” but the video franchise, and it’s appearances on college campuses, has led to arrests, student suspensions, and even a riot on the streets around the University of Delaware in September of 2013.
“This idea of portraying college drinking to excess is not new,” says Dr. Sarah Van Orman, a university health services official. “But with the ease of creating videos, distributing videos, social media, it’s much more easy for someone to produce an image that is all about excessive drinking. It’s all about drinking in really, really dangerous ways.”
Any med student will tell you that the body can only process so much alcohol at a time as the liver metabolizes alcohol at the rate of one drink per hour. By drinking significantly more than this, you enter “binge-drinking” status which carries with it serious side effects.
What are the Side Effects of Binge Drinking?
- Alcohol poisoning, in some cases leading to death
- Neurological damage
- Sexually transmitted disease
- Unintended pregnancies
- Children born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
- Unintentional injuries, like car crashes, drownings, falls or burns
- Intentional injuries, like sexual assault, domestic violence or firearm crimes
- High blood pressure, stroke, and cardiovascular disease
- Poor control of diabetes
- Sexual dysfunction
Viral videos, like “I’m Shmacked” or Neknominate, not only glamorize binge-drinking, they also encourage people to make a potentially dangerous activity a competition. Unfortunately, some will find out the hard way that nobody really wins when drinking and competition are paired together.
It’s easy to forget that many of these students are inexperienced at drinking and don’t have any idea how much alcohol is a lot or what it can do to the body. They just want to have fun and fit in.
And considering that alcohol will always be a part of the college experience for many students, they would be wise to learn how to handle it responsibly. Because the downside is, it’s a tough road to follow in the path of the 15 million Americans and their families who are currently affected by alcohol related abuse, addiction and fatalities.