Photo Courtesy of Wikicommons
Time and time again, each generation of young adults proves more bored than the last. Bored, because that’s what you must be in order to take on any of the demeaning, idiotic challenges seeping into online media in recent years. To be fair, most of us have done something stupid with friends when we’re looking entertainment on a particularly uneventful night. Yet, scores of uninteresting teens are taking their dreams of becoming a little less dull to new and ridiculous levels by accepting online challenges to masochistically injure themselves for the enjoyment of viewers. Yes, some teens choose to hurt and humiliate themselves in a grotesque quest for approval.
One of the most well known of these viral endurance tests is the cinnamon challenge. This requires a person to attempt to swallow a spoonful or more of cinnamon. This causes gagging, choking and sometimes vomiting from the powder clogging their throat and lungs. The powder actually blocks saliva glands and if inhaled, oxygen to the lungs. Now clearly, there is a risk for choking and asphyxiation here. However many famous internet personas have popularized this by uploading videos of themselves taking on the challenge. GloZell Green, a famous YouTube pesonality, took the challenge, except rather than a spoonful, she took a spoon ladle; her video garnered 50 million views.
Then, there is the salt and ice challenge, which causes sweltering, minor to major burns on the intellectually-challenged person’s skin. Even better, some teens simply adore the Tide Pod challenge, where people consume toxic laundry packets and film it. This challenge went viral to the point where the Tide laundry detergent company had to formally address it by reiterating the common knowledge that this product is toxic when ingested and people shouldn’t consume it. Eating these things can and will result in a hospital visit.
The choking game challenge is another bit of evidence that teen intelligence must be declining. The challenge? Put so much pressure on a person’s chest that they can’t breathe. The goal? Well, to pass out, I believe. I have personally seen two of our own students doing this. Standing at a tree, one boy had two of his friends press on his chest. While witnessing this, I’d didn’t know what to do. So, like the freshman I was, I stood and watched. While he didn’t really pass out, I could see, from a distance, that his eyelids were fluttering. It scared me frankly. I wondered, why in the world would someone play something like that?
Obvious realities such as eating a spicy pepper makes you sweat, constricting your lungs will make you lose consciousness and ingesting laundry detergent will poison you, are all ignored by those taking on these challenges as well as those who watch them. Thankfully, most teens are smarter than this. “I think teens do these types of challenges because they like doing what other people do to fit in”, says student Jason Mendoza. Many students think it’s a bit sad to see the extent people would go to for a minute of fame. “People like being trendy,” says junior Eilee Strobel. Even sadder, while interviewing students, I learned about dumb, dangerous challenges I hadn’t even heard of yet. “You know, the one where they put their hand on the table, the knife game – where they could cut their hand off?” asks junior Angel Martinez. I don’t know, and I don’t I want to know.
Internet fame (or alternatively, internet infamy) plays a huge role in teens deciding to take part in these challenges. Unfortunately, most of us know people would do just about anything to be famous. Most don’t suffer from depression or suicidal tendencies. They’re just too clueless to recognize that filming themselves doing something a million other internet sheep have done will not result in meme stardom or hilarious, pop-cultural references. Essentially these teens are poisoning, burning and suffocating themselves to entertain online viewers. I’m not sure who is worse in this scenario, the participants or those who follow them. What I do know is that this is an exercise in undeniable stupidity that no one will be famous for, or proud of in years to come.