Memes are a fantastic form of communication. A simple image that is reminiscent of a previous meme is usually instantly recognized and regarded as funny. The collective awareness involved in that is an incredible demonstration of how limitless human communication is. It’s all very nerdy and cool. But, if that is what memes have become, internet challenges are the embarrassing cousin no one likes to claim.
Some internet challenges make kids look abundantly ridiculous, which is bad enough, but some of them put teens in legitimate danger. You can read about these dumb ghosts of internet challenges past below. There’s no reason anyone should ever try any of them.
The Cinnamon Challenge
It is tough to believe that more than a decade has passed since this took the internet by storm. It involved eating a teaspoon (or maybe just an ambiguous “spoonful” it was ten years ago give me a break) of cinnamon. Without drinking anything. Cinnamon is kind of spicy in high concentrations, but it’s also hydrophobic. As in afraid of moisture. This dried out throats and induced a lot of choking all over Youtube and for what? No one remembers you now.
The Saltines Challenge
Once upon a time, in a far-off decade called the 90’s, Peyton Manning was a nobody. For some strange reason, someone decided to bet him that he couldn’t eat six saltines in under 60 seconds. This story was shared a few times over the years, about how diligently he practice until he was able to accomplish such a majestic task. Eventually, it joined ranks with the cinnamon challenge. People young and old were once again choking for their share of 15 minutes. Had they learned nothing?
The Milk Challenge
This one is so utterly disgusting that I prefer not to acknowledge it as a real thing that happened. To my dismay, there is proof spread far and wide into the depths of 2012 Youtube. Why did the Mayans let us down? It’s physically impossible to drink a gallon of milk in less than an hour. Takeru Kobayashi, a man who literally eats for a living, published a video of him drinking an entire gallon of milk in just 20 seconds. This sparked a challenge across the internet in which young folks tried to repeat the gesture. As people realized how impossible it was for the untrained stomach to contain that volume, the timespan kept growing. A minute. Ten. An hour. Kids tried and subsequently puked milk everywhere without fail.
The Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge
How Kylie Jenner has achieved her “iconic” lips is heavily discussed across the internet for whatever reason. Let her live. Teenagers in 2015 decided to attempt to emulate the look by literally vacuuming their lips in a glass. This challenge produced many injuries that were truly disturbing to have to look at. It got so bad that Kylie herself, and the director of dermatologic surgery at New York Medical College spoke out against it. Just 60 seconds of this type of pressure on such fragile blood vessels like the ones in your lips is enough to cause permanent damage.
The Condom Challenge
This is not to be confused with the condom challenge of 2015 involving dropping a condom/water balloon hybrid on your head. We’re taking it way back with this one, to 2013 when people started snorting condoms and then attempting to pull them out through their mouths. I can’t articulate how much I wish this was a joke. There was another variation that involved putting it up one nostril and then trying to remove it through the other. We all know that the anatomy of the nose allows for that kind of thing, but we don’t need to see it. And really, if you’re doing stuff like that to get attention on the internet, I hope you saved some of the condoms to use more traditionally because we don’t need any more of you running around.
The Salt and Ice Challenge
Do not do this. This challenge is pretty old, so many of you may not understand the severity of the injuries it causes, but it does cause them. To participate in this challenge, a heap of salt would but put somewhere on the body, and then held down with a piece of ice. Because of some super scientific and technical stuff, these two partners in crime get all the way down to 0 degrees. It causes a burning sensation at first, but then it gets numb. The numbness is the source of all the danger because participants aren’t able to feel the pain associated with the resulting injuries. Second- and third-degree frostbite, permanent scarring, and irreversible nerve damage are all extremely likely and can happen in less than a minute.
The Selfie Game
This seemingly innocent game in 2014 claimed the lives of several teens across America. The point was to take a ‘crazy’ or ‘extreme’ selfie. It began pretty innocuously, with teens doing funny things in public places, or wearing ridiculous outfits while snapping a photo to share on social media. This escalated to teens doing stunts during these selfies. Oscar Reyes is the most widely-known victim of The Selfie Game. The Texas teen took his final selfie perched on the bathroom door of his mother’s en-suite wearing a Spongebob Squarepants costume. Either the door wasn’t able to support his weight for the amount of time, or he slipped, and he hit his head and cracked it open. He died from blood loss. Almost ten people were killed in the United States while taking selfies in dangerous situations in the year 2016. There were about 100 similar deaths worldwide.
The Fainting Challenge
Do not do this. The high feeling related to lack of oxygen is something that people have been aware for a long time. This is something that when you first hear about it (for me it was before the invention of Youtube), there is nothing that can convince you of its reality. Sadly, in this highly digital age, in conjunction with the perpetual popularity contest of social media, I was proven very wrong. Teens, and sometimes younger people, are literally out there hyperventilating, choking themselves, or performing some other oxygen-restrictive task to get high or make themselves faint. A genuine problem with this trend is that it is continuously talked about and will pop back up every few years. Most young people have never heard of it until adults or a television show spark the conversation back up.
The Fire Challenge
Alcohol-based products are highly flammable and evaporate quickly, which makes the fire burn off pretty fast and usually go out on its own. This is something people used to show off on the back of a book or something, but in 2012 kids started doing it on their bodies. A literal adult who should have known better, 1BlazinEagle1 on YouTube set his chest hair aflame in a video that now has only 566K views. Somehow, that grew into a viral challenge. No deaths have been reported in association with this challenge, and it seems to have faded away for the most part. There was one 15-year-old boy in Kentucky that was treated for third-degree burns associated with the challenge back in 2014.
The Don’t Judge Challenge
Teenagers on the now-defunct video sharing social media platform Vine were making themselves look “ugly” on purpose, and then would remove all of their props and makeup to reveal that they didn’t truly look that way, with the message not to judge. A makeup artist and blogger that suffers from acne pretty severely posted a video in which she juxtaposed all of the vicious comments she received on her photos without makeup and the complimentary ones she received on her photos with makeup. Her point in making the video was that just because someone appears a certain way doesn’t mean that they aren’t beautiful. As with anything else uplifting on the internet, it didn’t pan out. Teens took to Vine in numbers exceeding 10,000 in the first week to post their own “don’t judge” videos, with their ‘before’ selfies mocking people with acne, fat people, and so on. This craze blew up, with about 1.7 million tweets referencing it in total, but it did the exact opposite of what it was intended to do.