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Vodka eyeballing: Trend or hype?

Jenna Johnson

So, one of my editors heard on the radio this morning that dumb kids now days have come up with a new drinking game: Vodka Eyeballing.

Yeah, even the name makes my eyes burn.

WTOP 103.5 FM explains this "dangerous trend" among British and American college students on its Web site:

It's called "Vodka eyeballing." Rather than swallow the vodka, college students are pouring it into an eye for what they say is a fast buzz. The alcohol goes into the central nervous system and into the brain, Dr. Elise Brisco of the Hollywood Vision Center tells KTLA.
Other experts are skeptical of the buzz effect. They do say it's a stupid move because of how painful it is and how much damage it can do.

Skeptical myself, I searched YouTube for "vodka eyeballing" and found a handful of painful-to-watch videos of dudes, most with British accents, holding a bottle of vodka up to their eye, leaning back and then hopping around, cursing and holding their eye. (Actually, according to the number of YouTube videos, it looks like snorting vodka is much more popular. Trend alert!)

I posted the WTOP article on Twitter and one person told me: "it was only a matter of time before college kids combined raging stupidity, alcohol and eyeballs."

But I have yet to find any college students who have been this stupid (or drunk enough to be this stupid). So, why all the buzz?

Earlier this month, the U.K. Daily Mail reported that vodka eyeballing started in the U.S. and is now "the latest drinking craze to sweep through Britain's universities." They told the story of a 19-year-old who shot vodka through her eye while cheered on by rugby players. Now her eye won't stop hurting and watering.

The question is then, why would an intelligent, seemingly sensible woman do something so foolhardy and so grotesque as 'vodka eyeballing'. And what can be learned from her story?
It is a question she wrestles with every day.

When other media outlets jumped on board to report the trend, Gawker wrote a post ridiculing everyone involved and calling this "the dumbest trend piece ever."

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By Jenna Johnson  |  May 24, 2010; 1:00 PM ET
Categories:  Night Life  
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Ha ha. Idiots.

Posted by: BrownTown5000 | May 24, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

What is dumber is you reporting on it. It is columns like this that are geared to college students that make people want to try it. And these are not kids, we're not talking high school. These are collge students who are adults. And why are you so surprised? If some people are literally willing to almost hang themselves just to get a high, this is almost benign in comparison.

Posted by: happydad3 | May 24, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Thinning the herd, people. Thinning the herd.

These people, like tea party members, should not be able to breed.

Posted by: bs2004 | May 24, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

America is behind in all areas of academia. No wonder.

Posted by: FiatBooks | May 24, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

sounds painful, but Canibutt has to be the most outragous drug fad there is.
college students microwave pot with butter and mix it up, then pour onto foil that has some long trough shapes in it.
the canibutter is then refridgerated so it reforms into harden butter. then the long thin pieces of butter are inserted like a supository. you then get high off your @ss.

Posted by: MarilynManson | May 24, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Canibutt - you mean like a champagne enema?

Posted by: snowbucks | May 24, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

"sounds painful, but Canibutt has to be the most outragous drug fad there is.
college students microwave pot with butter and mix it up, then pour onto foil that has some long trough shapes in it.
the canibutter is then refridgerated so it reforms into harden butter. then the long thin pieces of butter are inserted like a supository. you then get high off your @ss"

That has got to be the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Who wants to work that hard to catch a buzz? If these kids spent half as much time studying as they did thinking up stupid stuff like this we would still be number 1 in the world.

And yeah, my friends and I did some dumb stuff when we were in college, but flaming shots of 151 proof rum is a different beast than eyeballing vodka or shoving buttered weed up your bum. Alcohol + contact with your eyes = more pain than vodka shots can cure.

Posted by: onlytheshadowknows1 | May 24, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Some one should tell them to do it with flaming shots.

Posted by: PennyWisetheClown | May 24, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

In response to the complaint by "happydad3" (if that is his real name) that this column will encourage other youngsters to try this, I seriously doubt most WaPo readers are the sort most likely to go pouring booze into their eyes.

Posted by: Ralphinjersey | May 24, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Yet another bogus, unsubstantiated trend story. Sounds like in the rare instances this is done, it's just already drunk people daring each other to do it.

Just think about it. Just a little vodka would sting like crazy. It would be almost impossible to actually go from sober to drunk just by pouring vodka in your eye even if the effect is amplified.

Posted by: Booyah5000 | May 24, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

The prevailing media policy appears to be that if two "young people" do it, it's a national trend.

Posted by: Akger117 | May 24, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

As a parent of college-age youth, I sincerely hope this is more "urban legend" than truth. But if not...

Thank goodness my kids wear contact lenses! That should make them unlikely to go for this.

Posted by: nan_lynn | May 24, 2010 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Those aged 18-24 are also adults and not "kids" or "teens", meaning they shouldn't be called those words. The writer of this article is an ageist for calling young women and young men who do vodka eyeballing, which is stupid, "kids". The title for this article on the Local section is ageist because it calls university students "kids". Hopefully, vodka eyeballing will be significantly decreased because of how stupid it is.

Posted by: LibertyForAll | May 24, 2010 10:38 PM | Report abuse

"Those aged 18-24 are also adults and not "kids" or "teens", meaning they shouldn't be called those words."

LOL, you post this same drivel anytime someone refers to an 18 yr old as a kid.

When someone turns 18 the law considers them an adult. That doesn't mean society has to.

The fact that you are so hung up on the point only belies your insecurity and makes you even more of a kid.

Posted by: BEEPEE | May 25, 2010 1:31 AM | Report abuse

Well, it's not as dumb as the kids who kill themselves because of what some other kids wrote about them on Facebook.

Posted by: dubya1938 | May 25, 2010 4:02 AM | Report abuse

Wow Jenna you get paid to write stuff like this? Perhaps this is why the Washington Post does not cover the Iraq and Afgan Wars very closely. Does this type of Journalism make more cash? As Neil Young says "keep on rocking in the free world"

Posted by: MajorFacemask | May 25, 2010 7:03 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps a 23 year old was once considered an adult, but in an age where vapid and selfish twentysomethings continue to live at home and on their parents credit cards and - with the passing of Obamacare - their parents health care plans, they should be considered "kids". I certainly would not call them adults; for if they are, and represent the future, then this country is truly doomed.

Posted by: CubsFan | May 25, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

My buddy likes to vodka eyeball. He is 32. I think it's definitely a trend but until someone goes blind I doubt people will stop trying it.

Posted by: Barno1 | May 25, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

How about a pinch of skepticism from any of the news outlets covering this story? I doubt it's anatomically possible to absorb anywhere near enough alcohol in this way, even for someone who has no pain tolerance and the patience to sit there with an eye dropper for 45 minutes.

Journalism is not the same thing as stenography. The fact that someone says something does not make it true, and journalists are supposed to report the truth to their readers, not just repeat what other people say. I guarantee you a call to an eye doctor would prove conclusively that getting any kind of intoxication this way is an anatomical impossibility.

Posted by: pmurphy2 | May 28, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

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