Another day, another “viral challenge” has taken over the Internet once again. It’s one of the signs of the digital age, where, something utterly superficial or potentially dangerous becomes popular for no apparent reason whatsoever. There are several cases of online “challenges” that are inspired by movies, TV series, or sometimes they just come out of thin air.
One particularly head-scratching challenge was one that involves Tide Pods, a dare game involving the consumption of Tide Pods laundry detergent capsules, which are often compared to various fruit-flavored snack foods due to their packaging. Yes, people have resorted to eating laundry detergent and filming the whole process for reasons or purposes they themselves don’t even know. Website CollegeHumor uploaded a Youtube video titled “Don’t Eat The Laundry Pods”, which gained over 2.5 million views. This was done all in the name of “humor.” In the US, it was reported that several calls were made to poison control centers due to people, young and old, attempting to do this challenge. According to the Washington Post, “Last year, U.S. poison control centers received reports of more than 10,500 children younger than 5 who were exposed to the capsules. The same year, nearly 220 teens were reportedly exposed, and about 25 percent of those cases were intentional, according to data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers. So far in 2018, there have been 37 reported cases among teenagers—half of them intentional, according to the data.”
Tide Pods are poisonous—so why did people do it knowing the fact? It’s either to get their 15 minutes of fame, curiosity or just plain stupidity, nobody really can tell.
Another more recent viral trope was the “Bird Box challenge,” which spun from the Netflix thriller film with the same name. The film is a post-apocalyptic movie where a family has to go on a dangerous journey completely blindfolded to avoid getting killed by a dangerous monster that captures people through eyesight. Some fans took their love for the film to the extremes that they document themselves walking and doing various activities while blindfolded, with some even driving their cars. Netflix has issued a warning telling people not to do it at home.
In the Philippines, the “challenge” takes on a less physically dangerous turn but threads on a more sensitive issue. The “Boyet Challenge” is being done by some netizens, mimicking the mannerisms of the lead character in the GMA Network series “My Special Tatay” who has autism.
“The Autism Society Philippines condemns the latest social media experiment called ‘The Boyet Challenge’ (where participants mimic the title character from the soap opera #myspecialtatay) as a thinly-veiled instrument of ridicule of those who live with #autism and intellectual disabilities,” the organization said in a statement issued on Thursday. “Makatao ba na pagtawanan ang mga kapatid nating may kapansanan? Huwag gawing kutya o katatawan ang pagkakaroon ng autismo.”
The student council of the University of the Philippines’ College of Education in Diliman also condemned the act, saying, “As educators, each and every Guro ng Bayan is one with the struggle of building a nation that is free from any form of hatred and discrimination. These kinds of internet experiment just defeat the purpose of such struggle.”
It is important to note the existence of Republic Act 9442, which imposes sanctions against persons who ridicule or vilify people who are living with disabilities.
One man was filmed doing the challenge as he placed his order at a local food chain, and judging by the reactions of the people watching and the one holding the camera—they think it’s hilarious. Here is the video posted by RBreezy: The Boyet Challenge.
It’s appalling to think that in this day and age, some people find it funny to mock persons with disabilities. What’s even more shocking is that it has spread online under the guise of a “challenge” that everyone mindlessly followed.
Seriously, people. If you have that much time on your hands, why not spread something more worthy or positive rather than some insensitive, heartless, and harmful acts?