The internet is the greatest tool for acquiring knowledge that the world has ever seen, yet since humans have access to it, they’ve basically corrupted it and turned part of it into a bastion of ignorance and stupidity. Part of that is the bubble of reinforcing ones beliefs by only reading things that validate that belief system and part of that is the ever present set of “challenges” that seem to change every month. Like certain things kids/people have always done, like sticking one’s tongue to a metal pole in the winter, the internet has taken things that were previously part of society and basically given them steroids. That’s where “challenges” come in. Some challenges can be good, like the “Ice Bucket” challenge that was meant to raise money for ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease, while others are just stupid (like those on this list). So, considering that the Tide Pod Challenge has been such a large part of the news the past couple of weeks, let’s take a look at the top 15 most dangerous internet challenges ever.
15. The Vampire Biting Challenge
When you see a sign or disclaimer on a product that seems like it’s basically common sense, like not eating things that are obviously poisonous or to not jump off of something that is obviously high enough to kill someone, it’s challenges like this that show why companies/businesses have to go out of their way to explain things like that as to not get sued by the seemingly endless amount of stupid people who would do just that. It’s challenges like the Vampire Biting challenge, which seems to have peaked around the time that vampires did in pop culture a few years ago. While the movies like Twilight and television shows like True Blood were the reason behind both, they’re clearly not responsible for this challenge, legally, a challenge in which people would essentially bite their friends until they drew blood in areas that vampires typically would (namely on the neck). While it’d take a lot of effort to actually bite into someones jugular, it’s still not a great idea to bite someone until they bleed as the human mouth is actually really filthy and capable of spreading a lot of bacteria into wounds. So, if you’re looking into an amazing infeciton on your neck, then this challenge is for you!
14. The Snorting Challenge
Some challenges are extremely specific and some are open to interpretation and the Snorting Challenge falls into the latter as it really is about snorting something that you can pull between your nose/sinuses and your mouth, allowing you to pull it out while filming the entire thing. Most people typically relied on condoms balloons, but you can use anything like string or shoe laces, really anything that won’t break apart when it meets with the mucus, blood and spit that comes from pulling something through your nostril(s), sinus, throat and mouth. While it shouldn’t need to be said, it’s a really bad idea to do that not only because it could damage your sinuses, but also because the threat of inhaling something like a balloon or condom is real and because they’re some strong (especially the condom) they won’t break when you try to push them out through the throat and if they become especially lodged there’s really nothing that’ll remove them outside of a mortician. Think of the viral video of that genius that inhaled a bag of marijuana a few years ago after he placed the bag in his mouth and tried to swallow it as he was being tazed. The plastic bag was too flexible and heavy to be removed by the force of air that the Heimlich Manuever creates and you’d have to think that a condom or balloon would end up doing the same thing, especially if it’s weighed down by the goo that is created in that area of the face.
13. The Ghost Pepper Challenge
There are few peppers that are as hot as the Ghost Pepper, which was only recently discovered/created by the manipulation of peppers by farmers around the world who for some reason think that we need peppers that are hotter and hotter. This challenge is more entertaining to watch than the ones we’ve listed so far, as the reaction from people, while similar each time, is hilarious. The thing about the heat from peppers is that it takes a few seconds to trule kick in and it’s that that really makes these videos hilarious as most people initially feel confident about the heat (or lack thereof), most saying “This isn’t so bad”. It’s the “Or…” reaction after that that makes this a viral challenge and it’s technically the release of endorphins that accompanies consuming really hot peppers like this that justifies the breeding of them. However, for people with heart or stomach problems (especially intestinal issues) where the danger comes in. While most people with IBS or Crohn’s Disease, or heart burn issues would avoid this challenge, these challenges appeal mostly to young people and a lot of those young people don’t actually realize that they have these issues until it’s too late (and that too late can come during the Ghost Pepper Challenge). On the older side of things, people with heart issues can also suffer from enough distress that they could actually die while ingesting these peppers and that also applies to the young people who also don’t know that they have heart issues. If you think that we’re overreacting to someone simply eating a handful of peppers, you’ve clearly never had a Ghost Pepper before.
12. The Eraser Challenge
This “Challenge” has been around for awhile, decades even, as basically it involves someone using a pencil eraser and friction to burn a design or line in their skin (some challenges involve simply erasing one’s skin until they can no longer handle the feeling of literal flesh burning). Erasers work because they use friction and the rubberized material to remove graphite from paper, it’s that friction reaction and the much rougher surface that is human skin that turns this into a dangerous game in a way that’s different from the entries on this list so far. Sure, you’re not going to die from the burn(s) that’s created by this challenge, but because you’re literally burning your skin, you’re creating a scar that can last the rest of your life. Back in the 90’s it was in vogue to “erase” the name of one’s crush into your arm (or somewhere visible) as a way of showing your devotion to that person who may or may not have either been your first boyfriend or your first obsession. So, if you’re not in school right now, imagine looking down at your forearm and seeing the name of the first major crush you had, then look that person up on Facebook and think about the fact that your going to be reminded about that person for the rest of your life. While the new challenge may not involve initials, life is a long time either way and it’s not the best idea to do anything during your teens that’ll last the rest of your life for internet recognition.
11. The Taser Challenge
It was mentioned above that someone passed away from choking to death because they were attempting to swallow a bag of weed while being tazed by the police and while that’s not really the circumstances behind the taser challenge, it’s still never a great idea to pump your body full of a ton of electricity. You may not know this, but your body actually creates electricity and it’s what keeps your heart beating (hence those defibrilators that you see on every medical television show or movie) and external electricity can create a lot of problems for that electrical system both in and around your heart and also in your brain (as your brain also works based on electrical impulses). People seem to look at tasers as “safe” because they don’t typically kill those that are tazed, however, the police refer to them as “less-lethal” options because they’re not as lethal as a gun shot but they are still extremely dangerous. Beyond the risk that comes from pumping up to 50,000 volts into ones body, there’s also the risk of falling and hitting one’s head which is what kills a lot of people each year (either the elderly or those that are one-punched and fall and hit their heads on the concrete outside of a bar or club). A lot of these challenges are predicated on the feeling of invincibility and general stupidity that most young, let’s be honest, men have and the reality is that this can kill you and that nothing internet related is worth risking one’s life (outside of figuring out why Grumpy Cat is so damn grumpy).
10. The Boiling/Hot Water Challenge
Some challanges here theoretically can (and eventually will or would if they were still popular) hurt, maim or kill people and some, like the Boiling Water Challenge have actually negatively impacted a life. Also known as the “Hot Water Challenge”, this challenge changed the life of an 11-year-old girl who was having a sleepover with girls that she considered friends. Jamoneisha Merritt from Bronx, was asleep at a sleepover at a friends house when she woke up to a strong sensation of being burned during the Holidays in 2016 after her friends warned her not to fall asleep (which was apparently a threat that they made good on). Merritt suffered second degree burns to her face and shoulders and as the picture(s) show, the African American girl was burned so badly that she lost the pigment in her skin on the upper half of her face. Medic’s rushed her to the burn unit in the Harlem Hospital and the girl that threw the water on her was charged with assault, she was 12. Beyond the physical injuries (which were so bad that the doctors wouldn’t let her see them at first) there were emotional injuries as she felt like the girls there were her friends and couldn’t understand why they did that. So, this is a perfect example of how these challenges can turn serious really quickly and while most are supposed to be done to or by a willing participant, you really can’t put things like this out on the internet (or into the ether) and expect children to responsibly handle something that is this dangerous.
9. The Plastic Bag Challenge
If you read the number 10 entry on this list, you’ll have seen that it was said that you can’t put dangerous information out into the internet or ether and expect young children to responsibly handle it. Sadly, because it’s the internet, there’s people who understand that fully and attempted to take advantage of that exact fact (which really does show the darkest parts of the internet and really, mankind). 4Chan, which is always on the podium each year when it comes to which websites represent the crappiest parts of the internet each year, decided to “troll” the internet by created a “Wildlife Challenge” around the time of the Ice Bucket Challenge (and the money it raised for ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease) by creating the “Plastic Bag Challenge”. Typically, the sick idea of a single person really only reaches the few people that still follow that person on Facebook, but because millions of people go to 4Chan, they have the immense power to create memes and perpetuate things like a challenge. It’s obvious that putting a plastic bag over one’s head is a terrible idea as human beings need oxygen to live and so this challenge, which asked a person to put a plastic bag over one’s head while breathing heavily for five minutes, is especially dangerous. It’d be a lot higher on this list if it wasn’t relatively quickly identified as a fake challenge, but it still existed for long enough for people to actually try it and while I would like to think that the people on 4Chan were merely trying to make a point (as opposed to actively attempting to murder people), the fact that people did actually buy into this (while perhaps making that point) shows that they do have power and are wielding it in the worst way possible.
8. The Fire Challenge
Sadly, this challenge wasn’t created by trolls. The Fire Challenge requires someone to apply any flammable liquid to their body before lighting themselves on fire and filming the whole thing. This challenge was quickly condemned by police, firefighters and most media sources but despite that it existed from it’s inception in 2012 and it’s peak in 2014-15. Like the boiling/hot water challenge above, sadly this challenge can quickly change the life of someone who participates in it. One teen from Kentucky who participated in the challenge referred to it as “unbearable” and that’s just the immediate damage to the skin. It is thought by those that participate that the liquid will somehow protect the person and their skin from the fire, as it’ll essentially burn out once the liquid is done and while that’s partially true, the heat from the fire still exists and can almost immediately create second degree burns on those who try it. On top of that, people often begin to run after they realize how hot fire is and that can add more oxygen to the fire which can make it grow larger and reach the person’s head and hair. Also, inhaling superheated air can damage the lungs as well, so, while it may seem super obvious that one shouldn’t light themselves on fire, clearly it’s something that needs to be said. So, don’t light yourself on fire.
7. The Eyeballing Challenge
Eyeballing is the act of pouring a spirit (typically vodka) into one’s eye to “ingest” the liquid through the eye’s membranes and providing an instant buzz or high. You’d think that it’d be pretty obvious that pouring liquor into your eye is a bad idea, but apparently teens around the world were doing just that around the turn of the decade. Obviously, it burns like hell to pour something like vodka into your eyeball but beyond that pain you could be doing permanent damage to your eye. Beyond that, the vodka strips away the protective membrane on the eye which can cause all sorts of problems beyond the initial damage that this can cause, as your eye will remain unprotected from bacteria and things that float in the air for weeks after the act. At it’s peak, there were over a thousand individual videos on Youtube that showed people participating in this act, which was like ten thousand videos today. Eye doctors have compared pouring vodka into one’s eye like pouring bleach into someone’s eye, which means that someone can actually go blind from an internet challenge, which would be the worst return on an investment since people bought Bitcoins a month ago. Any high or buzz is basically all in the head of the person pouring the vodka, as a very small amount of alcohol would actually get into your system this way, which means that beyond the above damage created is just a waste of vodka, which is a huge problem.
6. The Salt and Ice Challenge
The Salt and Ice Challenge has an outcome a lot like the Eraser Challenge above, as it can lead to permanent scars from burns on one’s skin. However, the way the burns are accumulated is completely different from the Eraser Challenge as you can essentially stop erasing when the pain reaches an apex in that challenge, where as the pain that comes from the act of pouring salt and ice on your skin can be hard to stop once it begins as it’s essentially a chemical reaction that can be hard to suddenly cancel. The Salt and Ice Challenge is one of a few pain endurance challenges that exists and the way that it works is that it relies on the interaction between salt and ice, which can cause the ice to immediately start melting directly on the skin, which can cause extreme freezer burn on unprotected skin. While that doesn’t sound THAT bad, it’s basically like getting frostbite on steroids and it’s something that can actually be more painful than burns from fire. Also, and again, the fact that the salt and ice basically attach themselves to the unprotected skin means that it’s hard to actually immediately stop the reaction and pain that comes from this “challenge”. Beyond that, most people who participate in this challenge aren’t prepared to removed the salt/ice/water mixture from their skin, especially if they’re alone and so they just have to sit and wait for the reaction and pain to end. The best solution would be to jump in the shower and hit the warm/hot water (something that’s hopefully already running when you start this challenge), but as some of the videos have shown people are typically alone and in their bedrooms or outside, which means that they’re going to end up with a mark on their skin for the rest of their lives that’ll remind them that they used to be really, really stupid.
5. The Car Surfing Game
Car Surfing, something that was popular in the Bay Area during the dark period in hip-hop known as the Hyphy movement (known there as “Ghost Riding the Whip”) seemed like a terrible idea then and when it was reborn as the Car Surfing movement, it added in the variable that was internet recognition which meant that a lot of young teens or even preteens got involved which meant that it was only a matter of time until someone died. Well, it didn’t take long for that to happen, as multiple young people died while attempting this “challenge”. A perfect example of that was 21-year-old Wilberta Anna Becenti, who according to The Washington Post, spent the night drinking around a dirt road in Nageezi, New Mexico along with some friends. Around 4:30 a.m. and in the darkness that comes from rural New Mexico, Wilberta climbed atop the roof of a car and decided to car surf, she was flung from the roof of the moving car and when her friend finally found her body she was dead. This is actually an activity that goes as far bas as the 80’s, and like it says above, the Hyphy movement brought it back in full force after it reached a peak in the 90’s. MTV actually banned a Hyphy related music video titled “Ghost Ride It” after a bunch of deaths in the mid-aughts, but for whatever reason despite the fact that it’s responsible for the most deaths on this list it keeps coming back from the dead every five years or so, new and improved, to kill more young people who don’t seem to realize the dangers that come from doing something that is so obviously dangerous.
4. The Cinnamon Challenge
Like the Ghost Pepper Challenge, you wouldn’t think that ingesting something that you eat could be so dangerous. Unlike the Ghost Pepper Challenge, the Cinnamon Challenge can actually kill people who don’t have another health problem or issue. The reason that it’s so dangerous is also the same reason that it’s so entertaining, because (also unlike the Ghost Pepper challenge) most people don’t seem the horror that comes from pouring a ton of cinnamon in their mouths coming. Built off of the logic that comes from the Saltine Cracker Challenge, it’s essentially a challenge to ingest a certain amount of cinnamon in a certain amount of time despite the fact that it’s impossible for one’s body to do so. That’s really where the “challenge” part of this Challenge comes from, as people who enjoy challenges and who think “I could do that!” end up attempting to ingest the cinammon. However, as stated, it’s impossible to ingest that much cinammon and it’s something that the body immediately rejects as it’s a lot more painful than most people can ever imagine. The danger comes in when people end up inhaling the powder into their lungs, which typically is what happens as people immediately begin to panic when they realize exactly how painful the challenge is. Most challenges show people blowing out a cloud of cinammon and while you can do that without inhaling it, odds are that people will inhale at least some of the cinammon. That can cause irritation and inflamation of the lungs and in at least one case that cause someone to begin to choke and that ended up killing them. So, while this isn’t as “stupid” as other challenges on this list as it doesn’t inherently seem like someting that could end your life, but the rule of thumb is to always at least Google a challenge before you attempt it as it could end up saving your life.
3. The Choking Game
The Choking Game isn’t really a challenge as much as it’s a game that has been around since before the advent of online “challenges” but because it’s still something that young people partake in and because it has evolved into a challenge, it makes this list. The game/challenge is to have someone choke you out until you nearly pass out (or actually pass out), as the theory is that you’ll feel amazing once you come to and your brain starts getting oxygen again. While that obviously sounds extremely dangerous, and it is (as many kids have actually died from this “challenge”) it can also end up creating long term brain damage to the person who is choked out. So, it’s actually not that surprising that this is one of the persistent challenges as the reward is essentially a “high” for people who are too young for drugs or alcohol, the reality is that you’re giving yourself at minimum brain damage and at maximum death for that. While that’s actually the same definition of taking drugs (or drinking) and should make every adult reading this that drinks or takes drugs think twice about the next time they do either, it’s really all about how extreme the odds of brain damage/death are for each that makes the Choking Challenge one of the most dangerous on this list.
2. The Kylie Jenner Challenge
Before the Tide Pod Challenge perhaps the most dangerous and most stupid challenge out there was the Kylie Jenner Challenge and while it isn’t as dangerous as lighting oneself on fire or standing atop a car that’s moving, it was so widespread that it deserves a top spot on this list (as it was what put the word “challenge” (in this context) into the minds of square adults and parents around the world). This challenge involves basically using suction to break the capillaries around one’s lips as the swelling that comes from it ends up making someones lips exponentially larger than they were before. Now, the people doing this aren’t actually attempting to get nice lips like Kylie Jenner, but rather to create comically large lips that look a lot more like a caricature of Kyle Jenner but what isn’t funny is fact that hundreds (if not thousands) of people around the country ended up in the hospital (to get their lips drained) because of this challenge. Now, if your lips are swollen enough to go to the hospital, than they’re already basically pretty sensitive to the touch. Now, imagine having multiple needles inserted into those lips, for the application of a numbing agent and then to drain the blood that has filled them. Beyond that, there can be permanent damage to the blood capillaries and vessels in one’s lips which may not sound like a lot now but when you begin to age your lips can end up looking like the nose of an alcoholic whose nose is bright red because the alcohol has damaged their capillaries in their nose.
1. The Tide Pod Challenge
Before the Tide Pod Challenge, YouTube hadn’t actually removed the videos for other challenges out there, even if they were as stupid and dangerous as the Car Surfing challenge. That’s because the Tide Pod Challenge became extremely popular, so popular that the company behind Tide had to first come out and tell people not to ingest Tide Pods and then they had to actually bring in a celebrity in Rob Gronkowski in a second attempt to stop young people from putting Tide Pods into their mouths. Now if you search for Tide Pods on YouTube you’ll see the original Tide Pod challenge, which was a marketing plan on YouTube (Ironically) that hired famous YouTubers to get a shirt as dirty as possible before putting that garment into a washing machine to be cleaned by a single Tide Pod. Those Tide Pods are essentially three different types of detergent in a concentrated form, one for removing dirt/stains, one for cleaning and softening the garment(s) and one for whitening the garment(s). Detergent on it’s own is really, really bad for humans and so you can only imagine what concentrated detergent can do and that’s why it’s so bad that people are putting the pods into their mouths (for a challenge that asks people to hold the pod in their mouths for 30-seconds). The pod dissolves in water and even if your mouth is really dry, it’ll react to a foreign object inside of it and thus create saliva, and once that saliva hits the pod it’ll release that concetrated detergent into your mouth and it’s because of that that thousands of young people have reportedly been admitted to hospitals around the world thanks to this challenge and despite the fact that it’s been widely reported as a bad idea, as of the writing of this article it’s still something that is going on, even if the participants have nowhere to post it.