Every time my soon-to-be nine-year-old daughter does the laundry, I make a little joke and say: “Don’t eat the Tide Pods.” Then we both laugh, and she makes a comment about how she would never eat laundry soap.
It was about a year ago when the Tide Pod Challenge came to my attention. This was a challenge where people, mostly teens and young adults, filmed themselves eating the little packets of laundry soap and then shared the videos on social media. Eating laundry soap can be deadly, and in no way, shape or form can it be an enjoyable experience. Youngsters were doing this to get more views, likes and subscribers. What a strange time we are living in.
Proctor and Gamble, the maker of Tide Pods, changed the packaging and even launched commercials discussing the danger of ingesting the products.
When the Tide Pod Challenge was at its peak, I had a conversation with my daughter, because I wanted to make sure I got to her before she stumbled across one of these videos on YouTube and somehow idolized one of the participating youths.
Over the holidays, I was one of the more than 45 million people who watched the Netflix film Bird Box, starring Sandra Bullock. I enjoyed the film and there was no point during the movie when I ever imagined that a dangerous viral video challenge would emerge.
The day after I watched the film, I read a tweet from Netflix warning people of the danger of the Bird Box Challenge. In this new challenge, people blindfold themselves and try to complete specific tasks and film them. In the film, Sandra Bullock travels blindfolded with two small children seeking safety from dangerous beings. A quick search on the internet will show videos of people falling down stairs, driving a car, swinging axes and walking in the road, all blindfolded.
News agencies across North America have been covering the challenge, advising the public not to participate and speaking of the dangers that can occur if people do.
There are activities that can be done blindfolded that are safe, such as the old game Pin the Tail on the Donkey or piñatas. Swinging axes and driving cars are dangerous enough activities and should never include blindfolds.
There have always been challenges that young people partake in, and it seems that with social media, they are getting more and more serious. Each video is trying to top the previous one, and this leads to what could be dangerous if not deadly consequences.
I had a friend in middle school who was dared to drink a glass of soy sauce and in return he would receive $10. He drank it and vomited. I’d forgotten about this story until 2013, when I read about a young man who was in a coma and almost died from drinking nearly a litre of soy sauce. I wasn’t there when my friend drank the soy sauce, but I would never have thought he could have died.
With the power of social media, I don’t think these silly challenges will ever go away. Last year, it was Tide Pods, and this year it’s recreating scenes from Bird Box.
Children and teens have always been recreating and re-enacting things from television shows and movies. When I mentioned writing this column, a friend reminded me of the dangerous trend of children entering sewer systems looking for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the late 1980s and early 1990s. At the time, I was a huge Ninja Turtle fan, but I knew they were not real creatures eating pizza in the sewers. Police departments issued warnings on the dangers of playing in sewer systems. I even remember watching a Baywatch episode during this time about kids playing in the sewers.
If you’re eating Tide Pods or drinking soy sauce, the whole thing is ridiculous and very dangerous. It’s important to educate our children that there are many household items that are dangerous if they are misused.
Life is short, and people lose their lives every day. We face dangers all the time, and it would be a shame for anyone to lose their life because they were looking for a few more followers on social media.
Charla Huber works in communications and Indigenous relations for M’akola Group of Societies.