The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Internet challenges do more harm than good, student says

4 min read
By MOLLY AVERY Staff Writer Some people crave attention and are willing to do anything to get it. An easy and free way to instantly gain recognition and followers? Participating in an internet challenge.

The Verge


Staff Writer

Some people crave attention and are willing to do anything to get it. An easy and free way to instantly gain recognition and followers? Participating in an internet challenge. 

 Internet challenges have been floating around cyberspace since the beginning of the web. There are the classics, like seeing how many marshmallows fit in someone’s mouth, or watching a compilation video without laughing. Just as the internet has grown, so have the number of challenges, and they seem to get more popular and dangerous overtime.

The most recent of challenges is the Bird Box trend. The challenge is inspired by a recently-debuted Netflix original movie, “Bird Box.” Essentially, to avoid seeing their demons and commiting suicide, the surviving characters remain blindfolded. The challenge prompts participants to perform daily tasks blindfolded. 

Perhaps the challenge would seem funny if people were just trying to do things such as pouring cereal or applying makeup blindfolded, but that is not the case. Instead they are walking into traffic, operating heavy machinery, and driving blindfolded.

“It’s funny if you do it somewhere safe,” said sophomore Emilia Michalkiewicz, a historic preservation major. “But too many people are being stupid and doing it around roads or behind the wheel, which is when it stops being funny.”

The Bird Box challenge has become such a viral and dangerous trend, that YouTube has released a statement telling their creators to “not be idiots.” Netflix has also released a statement on Twitter begging people to “please not hurt themselves” by taking part in the challenge, although for some it is too late.

In Layton, Utah, an unidentified teenage girl crashed her car into another car while participating in the challenge. Although both parties were able to walk away with only minor injuries, their cars were totaled.

Due to the Bird Box challenge, YouTube has introduced stronger guidelines on their videos by releasing an updated list of what could get a video taken down. This list includes traumatizing pranks, videos that encourage physical harm, and more. YouTube took these measures due to how dangerous the Bird Box challenge is.

But the Bird Box challenge isn’t the first dangerous challenge to storm the internet.

Just this past year the “In My Feelings” challenge invaded all social media platforms. This consists of people dancing to Drake’s “In My Feelings.” This alone sounds perfectly safe, but part of the challenge is hopping out of the car and dancing while the vehicle is still moving. Some of these people were the driver, leaving a moving car unattended.

Sophomore Alexandra Slaughter sees the danger in the challenge.“I think some of them are cool to see if they are done well, but when they get out of the car while it’s moving, I just think it’s dangerous and dumb.”

As cool as it may have seemed, many people got injured while attempting this challenge. While getting out of the cars some people would trip, scraping up their bodies, and hitting their head against the pavement. A few people were even hit by cars while participating in this challenge.

Back in 2015, teenagers were nicking their parents shot glasses, not for underage drinking, but for different intentions. People would insert their lips into the shot glass and suck on it, in hopes of gettings plump lips like Kylie Jenner’s, hence the challenge being named the Kylie Jenner lip challenge.

If someone was lucky this challenge only caused bruising, soreness or torn skin around the lips. Less fortunate people had infections, burst blood vessels, and even the shot glass breaking under the pressure of the suction, causing cuts all over the face that required stitches.

Although it had been around for years before, the cinnamon challenge peaked in 2012. The challenge was to swallow a spoonful of powdered cinnamon without any water. Once ingested, the cinnamon clumps and blocks the throats airway, resulting in gagging, coughing, vomiting, burning and itching- but watching people choke down cinnamon is part of the appeal for internet users and challenge participants.

“As someone with asthma, I find it extremely dangerous and harmful. I don’t find it funny,” Slaughter said.

Some worse effects of the cinnamon challenge are that it can cause pneumonia, scarring and inflammation of the lungs, or cause the lungs to collapse all together. In 2015, a four year old boy died while ingesting powdered cinnamon.

Even challenges as wholesome as the ALS ice bucket challenge, a challenge that gained traction about four years ago and spread awareness about the disease ALS, have the potential to be dangerous. Two deaths were related to the challenge, one from drowning and another when the bucket was dropped on the challenger’s head.

“These challenges remind me a lot of America’s Funniest Home Videos except more dangerous,” Michalkiewicz said. This is only skimming the surface of the dangers of these challenges. 

There are so many other hazardous challenges on the internet that aren’t quite as popular in mainstream media but still gain a decent amount of attention. The major concern is that children are participating in these challenges to be a part of the trends and end up severely hurt in the process. Before creating a challenge, people need to weigh the pros and cons, to evaluate the possible safety-risks and to deeply consider the influence the challenge will have on adolescents.