What do Selfies at Serious Places, Trayvoning and the Condom Challenge, have in common?
I'll give you a hint.
Give up? They are all 'trends' that raged on social media for a while.
Selfies at Serious Places is as silly as it sounds; you take a 'funny' selfie in a somber location. The prize goes to the guy posing in front of the reactors at Chernobyl with no protective equipment on. In the Condom Challenge, teens upload videos of themselves 'snorting' condoms then pulling it out of their mouths.
Gross doesn't even begin to describe it. And Trayvoning? Let's not even go there.
The thing is, social media has been a vehicle for some of the dumbest trends ever concocted. The ease of recording and uploading these files makes it so easy. Heck, all you need is a smart phone and a two-bit data plan. While a lot of these trends stay in the stupid zone, many of them cross the line into being dangerous.
Take the seemingly 'harmless' cinnamon challenge. What could possibly go wrong? A lot; inhaling the fine powder can cause inflammation of the lungs and lead to an infection. If the powder is swallowed, it can form clumps that clog the airways.
Not so harmless now, is it? Yet there are 198,000 videos of people doing this on YouTube.
Where is the line between stupid and dangerous? It looks like it doesn't exist on social media. The following are some of the dumbest online trends that have serious consequences, including death, scarring and going to jail.
11 The Boiling Water Challenge
This may not have been among the most popular challenges but it certainly is dumb enough that we needed to include it. The point here is to boil a pot of water and then pour it on someone to watch their reaction. Yes you read that right. Boiling water can cause 2nd and 3rd degree burns and some of the victims will be badly injured. One video that went viral featured a girl who poured boiling water on her brother, once the water hits his back he falls over screaming in pain. His sister begins yelling as she realizes (a little too late) that the water seriously injured him. The video cuts to the young victim a few weeks later, his back was scarred and covered in burn marks that will most likely be with him for life. Luckily this is one of the less popular online challenges and one of the dumbest indeed.
10 Inhaling Nitrous Oxide
From its use at the dentists office to numb pain, nitrous oxide is now used as a drug among many. Casual users report an intense but brief period of euphoria followed by unstoppable giggling. Because this high is short-lived, users go back to huff some more. This is where it becomes a problem as most people can't tell when they've had enough. Common side effects are blackouts, convulsions and heart attacks.
Nitrous oxide also inactivates Vitamin B12; a depletion of the vitamin can ultimately lead to the inflammation of the white or gray matter of the spinal cord. Knowing these effects hasn't stopped users from doing this. There are over 9, 000 videos on YouTube showing people huffing the gas. The fact that there have been five deaths attributed to its inhalation doesn't faze them.
With her flawless makeup, designer clothes and lavish lifestyle, Kylie Jenner is the envy of many of her followers on Instagram. To copy her seemingly perfect pout, many teens went on hearsay and started using different methods to try and achieve the look.
One method involved sticking their lips into a shot glass, and sucking in air to create mild suction. This suction was supposed to result in a slight bruising of their lips, making them swell up. But the resulting swelling was always exaggerated and lasted for quite a while. At the moment, there are 177,000 video tutorials for creating this 'full lipped' look on YouTube.
This trend is silly and dangerous because the glass can shatter under pressure, ripping into the lips. In the quest for 'fuller' lips, some users have ended up with stitches in their lips. Some retailers capitalized on this trend and started selling lip plumping gloss, pencils, creams etc. The reality TV show star later admitted to having some work done on her lips.
8 The Don't Judge Challenge
Social media is the fastest way to get a campaign to spread. We all remember just how widespread the Ice Bucket Challenge was. Whether those recording themselves being drenched in ice cold water had any idea of WHY it was being done is quite doubtful.
The #Don'tJudgeChallenge was supposed to be a campaign to address body shaming using social media. People were encouraged to record short videos that had a transformation between the opening scene and closing scene.
In the beginning, they paint spots on their faces to represent acne, join up their brows to form a unibrow, some even blacken their teeth. In the final 'reveal' shot, they look like they just stepped off a magazine cover.
This whole trend is pretty strange because, it seems like they're actually mocking those that have those perceived flaws and can't 'wipe' them off as easily. How this is supposed to help fight body shaming isn't clear AT ALL, but there are 218,000 videos of people doing this on YouTube.
Thankfully, this trend seems to be over, but in 2014, this bizarre drinking game shook the world. Neknomination involved filming oneself downing a large alcoholic drink; then nominating three friends to do the same within 24 hours. With each person nominating another three people, the trend spread like wildfire across the globe.
The trend was weird on its own but the drinks got even weirder, as nominations spread. One chap downed his glass of water with two live goldfish in it, another drank a glass of gin that had a dead mouse soaked in it.
The dangers of downing such large quantities of alcohol in one go are too many to count; this trend led to five recorded deaths in London. One of the victims reportedly mixed one bottle of wine with a quarter bottle of whiskey, a small bottle of vodka and a can of lager, and downed the lot – the equivalent of 30 units in two minutes.
At the time, the nominations spread fast on Facebook and Twitter; there are still about 40, 000 videos on YouTube.
6 Sunburn Art
When summer comes around, you'd never go out without slapping on a bit of sunscreen. Thanks to Instagram, there is a new and bizarre trend out there for summer 2015. Sunburn art involves creatively applying sunscreen or using a stencil, to 'burn' patterns on the skin. People who do it cover only part of the body and leave other parts exposed.
After a few hours in the sun, they are effectively 'tattooed' with the pattern in the stencil.
Talk about painful 'art.'
Due to the surge of tweets about this (1,000 in the past month), doctors have reminded people about the risk of accelerated skin aging and skin cancer, if sunscreen isn't used.
Who ever thought tan lines would be the new cool?
5 The Choking Game
This trend has people getting their friends to cut off air supply till they pass out. They do this by putting them in a choke hold or pressing down firmly on the chest to stop blood from flowing to the brain. The oxygen deprivation causes a temporary blackout. They claim this gives them a brief high, hence its other name, 'Five minutes in heaven.' Some of the keener 'practitioners' even do it to themselves using homemade nooses!
This trend is exceptionally harmful due to the oxygen deprivation that the brain undergoes. When brain cells are starved of oxygen, they quickly die, and brain cells DO NOT regenerate. Another consequence is the possibility of a fractured skull and concussion as they keel over.
Using the hashtags, #passoutchallenge and #thechokinggame, the trend has spread on social media, with over 200, 000 views on YouTube.
4 Public Shaming by Parents
While most of the trends we've seen have been done by teenagers desperate for their 15 seconds of fame, parents have been accused of seeking attention as well. While there are many stories of kids misbehaving, very few parents take responsibility for their part in it.
One trend emerged where parents took to social media, especially, Facebook, to shame 'rebellious' kids. The idea was that since the kids show off on social media, shaming them on the same platform would 'set them straight'.
YouTube has videos of parents shooting up laptops, making them wear clothes with their real ages printed on, filming them getting ridiculous haircuts etc. One example of this ended tragically, when 13 year old Izabel Lazamana was shamed by her father in 2014. He shaved off her long flowing locks as punishment for “..getting messed up ...” Three days after the video was uploaded, Isabel jumped off the Tacoma Overpass and died the next day.
Shaming rebellious kids on social media is a question of too little too late, and parents who do it are simply following the crowd. Behavior experts have dubbed this a form of cyberbullying.
3 Hold a Coke in Your Boobs
In May 2015, the #HoldACokeWithYourBoobsChallenge started to make its rounds on Instagram. This challenge encouraged women to hold a can of coke between their boobs, take a selfie and post it on Instagram. The 'charity' running the campaign claimed it was to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research.
Some women complied and flooded Instagram with the pictures, but it turns out this was an elaborate hoax. Annoyed by 'stupid' trends like the Ice Bucket Challenge, Danny Frost and Gemma Jax came up with this elaborate plan to prank women with yet another challenge.
Women (and a few men) uploaded pictures with covered and bare breasts holding cans and bottles of Coke. Since the campaign went so well, Frost announced on Facebook that "he now wanted to use it to raise awareness about the terrible disease."
2 Helium Huffing
Yup, there is a social media trend that has people huffing balloons filled with helium, then talking like Donald Duck. With celebs like Morgan Freeman, Jimmy Fallon, Alan Rickman, Zayn Malik huffing it on TV, people generally feel the practice is harmless.
But that's not true as inhaling helium under pressure forces oxygen out of the body and can cause the lungs to rupture. Excessive inhalation of the gas has led to many deaths, but there were still 2,000 tweets about this trend last month.
Recent variations of this trend include inhaling from a balloon then letting out a long and disgusting burp, and posting that footage on YouTube. Wait, there's more; inhale helium then fart. Go on look it up; there are over 12,000 videos of people doing it on YouTube.
1 The Fire Challenge
This has to be the dumbest challenge of the year, even beating out the Charlie Charlie challenge. In this, people record themselves being doused in flammable liquid and setting themselves alight. To avoid getting badly burnt, they generally do this in the shower or by a pool. But many of them underestimate the speed at which fire spreads.
These 'safety measures' simply do not make any sense and do not work. The panic that ensues in the first few seconds of setting themselves alight makes them forget to drop the bottle of flammable liquid. They end up spilling even more on themselves or dropping it at their feet where it can spill and cause more harm.
The second thing is as they jump and thrash around to put out the flames, they can slip and bash their heads on the floor. Add the first, second or third degree burns that will definitely happen and you begin to wonder, WHY?
Yet there are 24,000 videos on YouTube, of people doing this.
Risking painful death for likes, retweets, shares on social media? Definitely not a bargain in my book.
There are a lot more than this ten; everything from thigh gaps, Banana Sprite challenge to the Belly Button Challenge. All we can think is, WHY?