Albert Einstein once remarked, “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.” I would have debated him up until a few years ago, but now we can see clearly what he means. One would think there is some reason in our actions. We are, after all, supposably the smartest species on the planet. But apparently the moment you ‘challenge’ someone, all sensibilities go right out the window. Because, how dumb do you have to be to know that detergent is not something you eat? Not even when it is packaged in water-soluble pouches as pods! How do humans, or more specifically, teens see a detergent pod and go, “Oh, my stomach is growling, maybe this piece of concentrated poison will help with those hunger pangs?” Logic dictates that there were, hopefully, other factors at play here.
One might argue that the internet is what makes things worse. Well, sure, it makes phenomena out of absurdities, but social media is not the ailment, it is just an exaggerated display platform for these stupidities. Researchers and practitioners argue that kids and teens are impressionable and naive, and their unfettered access to the ill-disposed and implacable side of the internet.
We have rounded up some of the weirdest activities that made the rounds on the internet. To give you an idea, we haven’t included the Ice Bucket challenge as yet.
1. Tide Pod Challenge
NO. Possibly the most unfathomable challenge, the tide pod challenge was a death wish. It’s incredibly stupid, too. I’m not sure if I’ll ever understand the appeal, but teens were intentionally eating the laundry-detergent filled gel capsules. The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) had to release a warning, too. For the most part, it was a case of peer pressure. They see one popular kid do it, and they try to ape the behaviour. Social media had a big hand in this. Kids do not apply logic, otherwise they would have considered that laundry detergent is a chemical. Otherwise they would not willingly ingest a poison that can burn their throats and damage their airways. But what their underdeveloped mind will focus on is that a cool kid in class did this and got hundreds of likes and comments. For now, the words Tide Pods are making me SO angry.
2. Blue Whale Challenge
It was a virtual death trap. The game listed tasks to be completed and drove gullible teenagers to commit suicide. A first-hand account of a survivor should have been enough to knock some sense, but the addictive nature of the game still overpowered many and the list of suicide related deaths has only increased from the US to India.
3. Kiki Challenge/”In my Feelings” Challenge
If you have been anywhere on the internet in 2018, you must have seen random people getting out of their moving vehicle and dancing to Drake’s track called ‘In My Feelings’ from his album Scorpion. I understand the song is catchy, but it is not THAT great. Certainly not great enough to justify major traffic violations. I managed to see the first video, thinking it was a stupid person making adventurous home videos. You have a heavy motor vehicle involved with either no driver or a distracted driver, and you are no stunt person. But it soon turned into a trend, and the more viral it got, the more it shocked me. No part of the entire activity is safe for anyone: the dancer, the driver or the other people on the road. Indians had their own version too.
4. The Fire Challenge
There is absolutely no indication the fire challenge is remotely safe to do. Participants set themselves on fire and try to put the flames out as quickly as possible. With a guarantee of first-degree burns at a minimum, and third-degree burns on an average, what part of fire is so appealing? It is fire, literally the most fundamental destroying element. Despite doctors issuing multiple warnings, multiple teenagers landed in the hospital because of this challenge.
5. Cinnamon Challenge
You might have missed the cinnamon challenge, but you might still have seen some memes. The idea was to try to swallow a spoonful of cinnamon without any water. Honestly, are you kidding me?
Look, let’s get one thing straight: excess of everything is bad. Cinnamon is no exception.
But at least,no one was ingesting poison, you say? Then know this: this challenge left around 222 kids with throat infection, respiratory issues after cinnamon ingestion in 2012. Take the case of Dejah Reed. She was hospitalized for a collapsed lung after trying the cinnamon challenge. Now she uses an inhaler to control asthma she never had before the incident.
6. Salt and Ice Challenge
The Salt And Ice Challenge requires the participant to put salt on a part of their body, usually the arm, and then put ice on top of the salt. It creates a burning sensation because of what we call a eutectic frigorific mixture which can grow as cold as 18 degrees Fahrenheit. The challenge is to see how long you can withstand the pain. These challenges also hint at everything that is wrong with our relationship with pain as a society, too. Pain has been glamorised into these ridiculous activities.
7. Condom Snorting Challenge
We probably expected condoms to be used for some challenge. Someone somewhere went, “how do we make this challenge nasty?”, and boom they had their answer. Redefining bizarre, the challenge is just to stuff an unused condom up a nostril and inhale until it slides into the throat and then pulls it out from the mouth. Not only does it sound painful and outright disgusting, but it seems like someone was really frustrated at not being to use a condom for the purposes it is meant.
Also, it is just plain gross?
Other variations of condom-related challenges involved filling the condom with water and throwing them in people’s faces. None of this sounds right.
8. Duct Tape Challenge
Why,oh why did you not leave duct tape for its use in woodwork? In the Duct Tape Challenge, a participant is wrapped in duct tape and then tasked with getting out of it. If you think it is harmless, think again. Skylar Fish suffered serious injuries.
There were also multiple reports of people injuring themselves as they try to make their way out of the tape. Who thinks of these dangerous DIY with the most normal tools and things?
9. Car Surfing Challenge
What part of surfing on the top of the car looks or sounds safe? Yet another traffic violation, this challenge also claimed a few lives as the surfers were flung from the moving vehicle. Many were injured as they fell down in the middle of the road. Time to make that driving license test a wee bit more difficult?
10. Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge
Kylie Jenner and her coterie of influencers are the worst when it comes to giving girls unrealistic body standards. They’re distorting the girls’ relationship with their bodies, and her impossibly large lips didn’t help.
So some people found ways to create lips that match hers in size. They sucked on a shot glass to create a vacuum that would cause lips to plump up to a comically large size. YouTubers did it, and the challenge went pretty viral, even though it made no one look good! Not to mention, the bleeding and damage to lips it caused.
11. The A4 Waist Challenge
Another challenge that feeds on the gullible teens’ desire for validation, this is also extremely hard on the mental health. Girls’ relationship with their body is already fragile, what with fairness creams and make-up products always telling them how their bodies are imperfect. And to make matters worse, there’s the A4 waist challenge. The premise behind this one is to hold up a piece of printer paper, the usual A4, to your torso and see if your waist is smaller than it.
12. Birdbox Challenge
The freshest addition in the list is the BirdBox Challenge. While it may not be as dangerous, fans blindfoldings themselves, and then shooting on camera as they go about daily activities with the blindfold on does not sound fullproof either. The Bird Box Challenge grew viral within days of the movie’s release. There are accounts with the sole purpose of creating and circulating memes and gags, but how does someone enjoy walking into walls, and worse, hurting their toddlers while they do so? The challenge also has the potential to make us insensitive towards blindness.
Maybe it is time to take a moment to revisit your idea of how civilised we are as a species.