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Very Real

5 Social Media “Challenges” That Were Terrible Ideas

Are people really eating tide pods for the likes?

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt

Is there anything people won’t do for internet points? Social media challenges are getting more and more popular, but for every good-natured ice bucket challenge, there are a dozen teenagers posting videos of themselves nearly choking on dry cinnamon on Youtube.

If you thought that the condom snorting challenge was the most ridiculous fad to hit social media, you were wrong. Here are 5 of the most ridiculous — and usually dangerous — challenges ever to gain internet traction.

1. The Tide Pod Challenge

No one, under any circumstances, should ever attempt to ingest any amount of laundry detergent. That may sound obvious, but try telling that to the people who have participated in the Tide pod challenge in recent years. Sure, Tide pods may be brightly colored and look like candy — which explains why small children may be tempted to try and eat them — but what started out as a dumb internet joke eventually evolved into Youtubers and teens taking on the challenge and taking bites out of Tide pods, Forbes reports. Considering that Tide pods are very poisonous, people seeking internet fame might want to just stick to pulling so-called “pranks” on innocent bystanders like every other high schooler with a YouTube page.

2. The Cinnamon Challenge

Swallowing cinnamon may not be as dangerous as taking a bite out of a Tide pod, but it’s still not something any health professional would encourage. Back in 2013, it was popular for YouTubers to film themselves attempting to swallow an entire spoonful of cinnamon and see how long they could last without needing water, but doctors say that trying to swallow the spice without any liquid could lead to choking, throat irritation, breathing trouble, and even collapsed lungs, CBS reports.

“This is a dangerous practice which can result in choking, aspiration of cinnamon powder into the lungs, and even respiratory failure requiring a ventilator in extreme cases,” physician Dr. Robert Glatter told CBS. “The stunt can also be deadly as a result of lack of oxygen to the brain in cases of choking and aspiration of the powder.”

Why risk your health when you could just choose not to eat cinnamon by the spoonful?

3. The Salt and Ice Challenge

Purposely injuring yourself? Do it for the ’gram! For this one, people — probably teenagers, let’s be honest — put salt and then ice on their skin, which causes a burning sensation. Participating in the salt and ice challenge can lead to frostbite, second-degree burns, and even painful, permanent scars, Today.com reports, but that didn’t stop some, like the 12-year-old Pittsburgh boy who ended up with second-degree burns, from trying it out last year.

“Some of the pictures you'll see on the internet and YouTube, those kids have third-degree burns,” pediatric physician Dr. Brian Wagers told AOL. “I mean it turns it to leather essentially. So you lose the blood vessels that are in there. You lose sensation, because of the nerve endings... You'll never have like hair if you did it on your arms. So you'll have a bald patch.”

Kids creating lifelong injuries just for social media validation is exactly the kind of thing parents have nightmares about. Put down the ice cubes and the salt shaker, Johnny, and just walk away.

4. The Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge

Whether you love her or hate her, it’s hard to deny that Kylie Jenner has an iconic pair of lips, if only because of all the drama they’ve caused. In 2015, teens attempted to recreate and, simultaneously, mock Kylie’s lips — which seemed to grow three sizes during her late teens  — by adopting the Kylie Jenner lip challenge. In order to get a Kylie-approved pout, teens began placing their lips inside of the openings of plastic bottles and sucking in air, creating a vacuum that, which, while causing temporarily plumper lips, is actually pretty dangerous.

“The idea is they’re sucking and creating a vacuum, and that vacuum would result in swelling because it’s a trauma to the lips, breaking of blood vessels, lacerations, cutting of the skin that requires stitches in some cases. And that can leave marks that include pigmentation, scarring,” dermatologist Dr. Francesca Fusco told CBS New York.

5. The Car Surfing Challenge

When it comes to doing dangerous stuff for internet points, you can’t get much more dangerous than the car surfing challenge, which involves using a moving vehicle as a surfboard. In 2016, 21-year-old Wilberta Becenti died while attempting the car surfing challenge, and was at least the 7th death that year, USA Today reports.

Her story is similar to that of Minnesota teen Andrew Green, who had to have a part of his skull removed and was placed in a medically induced coma for a month after a car surfing incident gone wrong. Green miraculously survived, and later told KMSP, “If I ever have the chance to tell someone or stop someone, I want to take that chance. I don't want anyone to end up like this, and there is a possibility they could end up even worse than this.”

(Photo: Teenager using texting while waiting to be seen at the doctor's. Via Getty Images)