Viral Challenges- The good, the bad, and the ugly!
Jul 26, 2019
Sometimes, our better judgement, all the years of education, the expensive degree, and the sensible voice in our head are flung right out of the window, and we do questionable things. Things that we are not proud of. And social media is the lit-up billboard of questionable decisions. Sure there are great things that come with it, but can you honestly swear on your soul that you haven't done something just for the sake of jumping on the bandwagon of a trend that everyone is following? We thought not!
Viral Challenges are dry leaves waiting to catch fire, and things spiral fast. It is a sheep following sheep mentality, and nobody waits and asks ‘But, why?’. While all the talks about ‘self-love’ and ‘you do you’ are making the rounds, the generation still seeks validation by chasing the next shiny thing which is ‘in’.
This insecure and validation seeking generation is only challenged further with the 8-second attention span and the catch-fire social media which seeks very little to create a global sensation out of anything. Funnily enough, in today’s time, the answer to the age-old mom’s question ‘If someone tells you to jump off a cliff, would you?’ is ‘Yes, I would.’
The classic frontier to this phenomena are Social Media Challenges that go viral within minutes, and the next thing you know, everyone is doing it. In this opinionated world of do-gooders who want to ‘start a change’ and ‘create an impact’, there can be a lot of good that can come out of it, which goes to show how a handful of people with good intentions can move mountains.
While one can ride the wave and actually create a positive impact, things can go south too! There were many challenges in the past that truly stood for a good cause, but on the other hand, there were many that not only disgusted Social Media users, but created havoc and even claimed lives.
Here is the list of viral challenges that fit into the criteria of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The Good Ones
The Trash Tag challenge prompted people to follow the classic ‘Before and After’ pictures of their surroundings. The Before picture would show a place that has been littered and trashed, and the After picture would be taken after the area has been cleaned up. This challenge encouraged people to get out of their homes to clean the environment and was an excellent effort to clean up beaches, forest trails, parks, roadsides, etc. It was proven to make one feel good about this whole initiative as they were doing something towards the betterment of the surroundings and environment, rather than complaining about it.
Although the original source is claimed to have been started by an outdoor gear company UCO Gear in 2015, it was reignited in 2018 by Byron Román via a Facebook post that encouraged ‘bored teens’ to go out of their homes and do something good for their lives. The original post had over 324,000 shares and 97,000 likes and became a viral trend that ranged from Nepal to Washington DC. This is one such Social Media challenges that left a positive impact in our lives and restored our faith on the internet.
ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past ten years, you must have come across the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that took the internet by storm the moment it went off in the year 2014 and continued till 2015. With participants like George W. Bush, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Tiger Woods, Will Smith and more than 17 million participants worldwide, this is one of the most viral challenges in Social Media till date.
It was started by Peter Frates, to support The ALS Association, a foundation that is responsible behind creating awareness and raising funds for people diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also called Lou Gherig’s disease. The challenge is to dump a bucket of ice water on your head and donate 10 dollars to the Association, or skip it and donate 100 dollars. The participants had 24 hours to finish the challenge and tag other people for participation along with filming the entire act as proof and upload it with #IceBucketChallenge. This challenge managed to raise $115 million for the ALS Association and created awareness about the rare condition of progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.
The Bad Ones
The internet can make you do crazy and bizarre things in the name of challenges that goes viral in no time. One of such challenges was the Cinnamon Challenge that dates back to 2001, with its first YouTube version in 2006, but the final peak was in the year 2011 where there were over 2.4 million hits as reported by Google. This challenge was an attempt to swallow a tablespoon of cinnamon powder in 60 seconds without liquids.
Thousands of people were seen shovelling cinnamon powder into their mouths, gagging, coughing and choking, by the caustic chemical and indigestible cellulose matrix of cinnamon, while someone records it. This resulted in thousands of lung damage cases and poisoning cases along with the death of a four-year-old, who died of asphyxia. This is where content consumption comes into play and teaches the lesson that not everything on the internet is cool, and just because thousands of people are doing it does not imply you should be doing it too for fun’s sake.
Tide Pod Challenge
There are some teens who prefer having movie marathons with friends, going for road trips or even enjoy community service (well, few teenagers, we do stress that the count may not be quite high). On the other hand, there are other teenagers who find dumb things to do, such as engaging with the ‘Tide Pod Challenge.’ We can’t even emphasize how stupid this craze was and how deadly its consequences could have been.
It all started in 2018 when the teenagers started filming videos of them popping the small Tide detergent pods in their mouth. Some even amplified their absurd creativity and put the laundry detergent as pizza toppings while cooking or fried them in pans before gulping it down. There is no idea about how the fad started but since the internet is a major hub of the rise of some of the most foolish ideas, this in no time allured to the older children and became a viral stunt. While the Tide pods may have looked enticing to the teens, not to forget it was poisonous and possessed serious threats to the life of kids when consumed. It’s worrisome what poor judgment and the urge of attaining popularity can often give rise to!
The Ugly Ones
Bird Box Challenge
Wait, if you thought the Tide Pod challenge was the epitome of following foolishly dense challenges, we have something that will force you to roll your eyes even harder at humankind. The craze picked up after a horror/ thriller movie named Bird Box released on Netflix at the beginning of the year featuring Sandra Bullock. The movie plot revolves around the actor and her co-stars who wander around wearing blindfolds throughout the film to dodge through the apocalypse and prevent death.
But soon, it became the inspiration for the most aimless challenge where people tried to navigate through and carry around everyday tasks while being blindfolded. Many videos showed people running into walls while some even tried their hands at driving blindfolded. What’s alarming is that many people ended up hurt and injured in hospitals just because they followed what was trending without assessing the potential dangers beforehand. Netflix was quick in asking people to abstain from this challenge. They used Twitter to voice their concern and asked people not to get hurt with this viral challenge.
US Rapper Drake’s “In My Feelings” song infested immediately like the common cold and gave people another reason to put their lives at stake. While we appreciate the catchy tune and lyrics of “Kiki, do you love me?”, we strongly criticize people jumping out of their cars and participating in this viral sensation called ‘Kiki Challenge’ by dancing along with their slow-moving vehicles.
The #InMyFeelingsChallenge kicked off when comedian Shiggy performed to the song on a busy road in June 2018, giving rise to other cringe-worthy videos tagged as dangerous. While it broke the internet, it also managed to break some bones. The police forces from around the world got vigilant and warned people about the risks of the challenge and fined people who didn’t adhere. We bet if Kiki was a real person, she would have knocked some sense into these madmen.
Contributing to viral challenges is all fun and games where you become a part of a huge online community and add to the entertainment. However, it is essential to have the judgement of identifying what is fun and what is utterly dangerous before trying them out. The trendy social media challenges have their positive side as we talked about earlier, these are a good medium of grasping the attention and generating awareness and sometimes simply for the purpose of good laughs.
But, the concern is to not get blinded by the attention and the popularity one can get through posting such pictures and videos online and take a clear call on what is healthy and what is not. As long as we ask ourselves this question every time before we participate in any such extreme viral challenge, we save ourselves not only from unplanned hospital vacations but also STUPIDITY.