It is usually impossible to tell who is the first to come up with these challenges, or what deems them “cool” enough to go viral, but during their brief time of trending online, they amuse the crap out of us. We as a people seem to find great amusement from watching other people do ridiculous things to themselves in the name of entertainment, and more than that, we love taking part in these ridiculous activities just for the hell of it.
Challenge videos ought not to be confused with “Tag” videos that require participating users to answer a list of questions on a given topic (e.g. The Girlfriend Tag). These videos are the most low risk in terms of physical harm, (if you get a question about your partner wrong and they make you sleep on the couch, that’s on you buddy) and are in abundant supply on YouTube.
The vast majority of social media challenges are harmless. Well-established YouTubers often take part in social media challenges at the behest of their fans, and in order to remain “current” and “relevant” to their audiences. While famous YouTubers may be just as likely to take part in ridiculous and sometimes dangerous challenges as the rest of us, you may also note that some of the videos listed below were too much even for them. In fact, some YouTubers even made videos to speak out against some of these challenges just because they resulted in so many injuries, deaths, or just looked flat out dangerous.
A decent amount of the videos listed below are, in the long run, relatively harmless, but no less entertaining. The truth of it all is that everyday people do ridiculous and dangerous things in order to have their moment of fame. It is entirely possible that their hope is that their challenge video will result in online fame which is entirely unlikely given the brief time each challenge trend has in the spotlight. Let's take a look— and have a laugh.
17 The Ice Bucket Challenge
Possibly the most infamous internet challenge over the last few years has been the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Originally carried out in an attempt to raise awareness for ALS, (http://www.alsa.org) Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, which is a disease that affects a person’s ability to control their muscle movement. The idea behind it being that the shock of icy cold water is a very loosely similar sensation. Celebrities and basically everyone you know took part in the challenge, and it wasn’t long before the meaning behind the movement was lost to the sensation of throwing cold water over ourselves to be part of the hype.
Just some of the celebrities to have taken part include Cristiano Ronaldo, Bill Gates, Kim Kardashian, Patrick Stewart, Robert Downey Jr., Kermit the Frog, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, and Benedict Cumberbatch. YouTube seems to have endless ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos for you to scroll through, though how many of the people taking part actually donated to the organisation as encouraged is probably significantly less than the amount of people who took part.
16 The Duct Tape Challenge
The Duct Tape Challenge has been executed in a number of ways. Some participants taped themselves to walls or chairs, and some simply wrapped themselves in duct tape and then attempted to escape like Houdini. The emphasis on this challenge is the escape part of the process— success means managing to break away from the wall, chair, or bindings you are attached to. Duct tape is strong stuff, like, it holds moving boxes filled with people’s lives together. So it is impressive that people have been willing to constrain themselves with the hardy tape, and more impressive still is that people who took part in the challenge were able to break themselves out of whatever bind they managed to put themselves in. Some challenge participants made it a race and invited more people to join in with their videos, and titled whoever managed to break free first the winner!
15 The Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge
The Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge involves participants using a shot glass (or in the above case, a vacuum) and using the suction effect to pump the size of their lips in an attempt to imitate Kylie Jenner. She is one of the reality television stars that appears on the show Keeping Up With The Kardashians, and it seems that as well as invading our media and having more family members than the world knows what to do with, the 19-year-old Kardashian has also become an internet challenge as a result of her full (fake) lips.
While there seem to be more “epic fail” videos for this particular challenge, we can all remember sucking the inside of plastic cups and drinks bottles until we had that distinctive red ring around our mouths. This challenge seems to be a sensationalised, documented on video, version of that.
14 The Salt And Ice Challenge
The Salt And Ice Challenge is any masochist’s game. People who carried out this challenge signed themselves up for a world of pain as they applied a layer of salt directly to their skin, and then placed ice cubes on top. The chemical reaction of the two causes heat from the body to be soaked up and freezes the skin, causing second- or third-degree burns in an effect not too dissimilar from frostbite. Participants of the challenge are supposed to hold the salt and ice combination on their skin for 60 seconds in order to be successful.
This is one of the challenges that goes to show the lengths people will go to in order to maintain their online viewership. The pain is evident and the aftermath of the challenge is shocking— so why did this challenge become so popular with internet video makers? The only relatable reasoning is that the challenge of putting oneself through pain is like when someone tells you a plate is hot, so you touch it anyway. Just to check.
13 The Cinnamon Challenge
The Cinnamon Challenge is one of the most well known internet challenges. The challenger is required to place a spoonful of cinnamon powder in their mouth and hold it there for as long as possible. Many people who take part are only able to withstand the sensation for a few seconds before coughing out clouds of cinnamon and reaching for a glass of water.
A number of people found the intense reactions dramatic, because it’s just cinnamon, right? So they would try the challenge themselves only to realize that the reaction is totally justified— because when you put such a large quantity of cinnamon in your mouth, it dries out your mouth and throat. That’s why people who take on the challenge end up coughing, gagging or even vomiting. Inhaling the cinnamon can lead to difficulty breathing, and in the more extreme instances, pneumonia or a collapsed lung.
12 The Condom Challenge
The Condom Challenge is a challenge most likely concocted by teenagers, because there is nothing teenagers love more than using condoms for everything but their intended purpose.
To complete the challenge, you fill a condom with water, and then drop it onto someone's head. It is important that you don’t tie off the condom, since this seems crucial in creating the desired ‘water beard’ effect. This challenge is highly comparable to those moments you had as a teenager and you would blow up condoms into balloons, or fill them with water and throw them at your unsuspecting friends. The above video is perhaps the best example of this challenge since The Slow Mo Guys, as their name suggests, slow the process down so that you can really see the magic happening. They also play about with angles!
Oh, the things that youths find entertaining…
11 The A4 Waist Challenge
The A4 Waist Challenge was a concerning spree that began in China but quickly caught on and became a global trend. The idea is to hold up a piece of A4 paper to your waist, and see if you are thinner than the paper (as shown in the picture above on the left). Because people don’t have enough impossible body standards to live up to. Freelance writer Stevie Martin had the most perfect response; she took to Instagram and posted the above right picture, along with the caption:
“Women in China are taking pictures with A4 paper to show how tiny their waists are. I gave it a go. #a4waist#AWaist #fitness #goals”
Other people spoke out about their concerns regarding this challenge as well, expressing their concerns that this challenge would be yet another harmful influence on young people and the way they view their bodies. There was also concern that having an A4 waist would become a “goal” and inspire young people to starve or over work themselves in order to achieve it.
10 The Panty Challenge
The Panty Challenge was another mildly concerning trend, where women were encouraged to reveal their underwear to prove that they don’t have any discharge on them. What is concerning, is that it's actually healthy and normal. It is more concerning if you're... dry, in which case medical help ought to be sought.
While a limited number of women participated in the challenge, the fact that it began trending on Twitter was, in a way, beneficial in provoking an educational moment where people described the way a healthy woman's body should function and criticized the original post that sparked the hashtag. While the Panty Challenge was yet another attempt at shaming people for perfectly normal bodily functions, it did result in an interesting online conversation about the taboo around discharge. Because seriously, it’s normal and it happens to everyone woman who is healthy. There’s no shame in it.
9 The 100 Layer Challenge
The 100 Layer Challenge has somehow resulted in YouTubers layering up so many strange substances in the name of entertainment. Glue, superglue, foundation, lipstick, hair extensions, wax, glitter… it is an extensive and slightly concerning long list. The challenge involves the participant putting 100 layers of their chosen product on their body in some way, usually on the face, eyes, nails or in hair, though there are exceptions— the 100 Layers of Skittles challenge video by DavidParody was eaten in between bread with a healthy dollop of mayonnaise (because why not make the challenge even more disgusting for yourself?).
What is the worst thing you can think of to put 100 layers of onto your body? It has probably already been done, and you should definitely search “The 100 Layer Challenge” into YouTube to see all of the weird and wonderful things people have put themselves through in the name of view hits.
8 The Belly Button Challenge
The Belly Button Challenge is as morally disturbing as the A4 waist challenge. It involves individuals reaching around their back and touching their belly button, thus proving they are slim enough to do so. Once again originating from China, the trend took off and has been widely criticized for promoting unhealthy body image ideas.
Critics were concerned that this challenge would be reaffirming unrealistic body standards on individuals with eating disorders, and that attempting such a "challenge" (or even just seeing the praise and affirmation that success is met with) could be triggering to such individuals.
But seriously, why are so many of these challenges built around being as thin as humanly possible? People come in all shapes and sizes, and that diversity should be celebrated instead of criticized. Not only that, but the challenge is actually testing the flexibility of your shoulder joint rather than your body’s size. So there is also that level of ridiculousness.
7 The Collarbone Challenge
Yet another ridiculous body shaming challenge, the Collarbone Challenge encourages participants to balance as many coins in the dip of their collarbone as they can, the idea being to stack as many as you can without the row toppling over. According to the same social media site that sent the Belly Button Challenge viral, the more coins you can stack, the skinnier (and therefore sexier??) you are.
Obviously, your ability to use your collarbone as a coin purse is neither a measurement of sexiness or skinniness, the outcome of the challenge itself is far from being a valid indicator of attractiveness for its participants. Which is why it is baffling that some people took it further and displayed their abilities to hold soap, fruit and even vibrators in their collarbone dip! (Sexy, right?) Here’s to hoping it came from a place of satire rather than a genuine belief that the more their collarbone can hold, the more attractive they are...
6 The Drake Dance Challenge
There have been several Drake Dance Challenges, by the looks of things, but the most recent seems to be the Controlla Challenge, where participants dance to the DJ Flex's remix version of the song Controlla by Drake. The end goal of the challenge is unclear, but the aspect that participants seem to focus on in tutorial videos is a dance style called “tutting” which is dancing with your hands.
The unique style of the dance is perhaps the challenge itself, given the mind-boggling nature of the combination of moves. After a thorough scan of YouTube videos posted under this challenge title, it doesn’t look as though anyone who has attempted the challenge has failed it, which possibly takes some of the fun out of it. Surely it would be more interesting to see people’s first attempts at mastering this unique dance style?
5 The Don’t Judge Me Challenge
The Don’t Judge Me Challenge was wildly popular. People would go to extreme lengths to make themselves appear “unattractive” for the first portion of the video, only to cover the camera with their hand momentarily before the “big reveal” where they pull their hand back and show themselves transformed; now looking their absolute best and taking the time to play to the camera.
The challenge raises some concerns about beauty standards and our society’s perception of “ugliness”. Especially given that the title of the challenge is “Don’t Judge Me”, it seems as though the participants are making a judgement on what is deemed physically unattractive vs. what society deems attractive. Glasses, This is especially clear to see in the video above since the compilation allows you to see the running theme in both the “before” and “after” shots.
Also, there’s a lot of awkward lip-biting. Why??
Neknominations were ridiculously popular a few years ago. Believed to have originated over in Australia (because where else?), the challenge involves the unfortunate nominated party to drink a beer in one go. The challenge quickly escalated and people felt they needed to “top” the challenger before them. People ended up putting disgusting combinations into glasses and necking it, before challenging more of their friends to take part in the unsavory experience.
While it all started out as fun and games, there were actually a number of people who died as a result of this particular social media challenge, which only goes to show the power of social media trends and how potentially harmful they can be when they are founded in negativity or in this case, alcohol-induced decision-making. For example, in one video, the participant can be seen briefly pouring cleaning product into her jug, which she goes on to drink. There are even others that drink pitchers with a live goldfish inside! There is some hope that these videos were done as an attempt at humour, so all faith in humanity may not need to be entirely lost...
Seriously, please don’t drink cleaning products just to prove a point online. And leave the goldfish alone dammit!
3 The Coke Challenge
The Coke Challenge is kind of like the “pencil test” that people do when they’re teenagers and want to see if they can hold a pencil underneath their boob. The Coke Challenge, however, requires the nominated party to hold a can or a bottle of Coca Cola between their breasts without using their hands to hold it there.
Many women have improved their boob-holding abilities as time and attempts go on. One goes from holding a bottle of coke all the way through to a wine bottle! And then there's this guy. Who just makes everything better. Because this is supposed to be raising awareness for breast cancer. Though it seems women are using it as a way to send out their "I'm single and willing" signal instead. We could discuss the morality of such a challenge, but all of the women taking part seem enthusiastic and happy to be participating. Although, of course, the comments on said videos could probably leave something to be desired… (That “something” is respect).
2 The Fire Challenge
Possibly the most obviously dangerous social media challenge to have occurred. People would cover themselves in hand sanitizer or nail polish and then set themselves on fire. Yes. Seriously. People actually set themselves on fire. And then filmed it. And then put that video online. Fortunately, most of the people in the video above were within quick reach of water and were able to douse themselves moments after setting themselves on fire. However, many people who attempted this challenge were seriously injured. Because they set themselves on fire. For the internet.
Anyone who actually did this challenge ought to have had their challenge video automatically sent to all future potential colleges or employers as a form of deterrent.
On a lighter (hehe) note, to everyone that did make one of these Fire Challenge videos, you really missed an opportunity to have ‘Disco Inferno - The Trammps’, ‘Ring of Fire - Johnny Cash’ or ‘Hot In Herre - Nelly’ playing underneath the moments you helped everyone else lose faith in humanity.
1 The Mannequin Challenge
The most recent social media challenge to sweep its way across the web is the Mannequin Challenge. While it has mostly served as a way for the rest of us to weed out the people who can’t properly spell “mannequin”, it has also been a harmless, fun and well-executed challenge.
Television shows (such as Saturday Night Live) have even taken part in the light-hearted challenge! The challenge involves a Camera Person weaving their way around a scene of people who are all posing, completely still. Some of the challenge videos so far have been entirely impressive and cleverly captured. For example, in the SNL Mannequin Challenge posted above, did you notice that even the paint pouring out of the overturned can is entirely still? HOW, SNL?! HOW??
Even Hillary Clinton and her campaign team took a moment during the Election Day to take part in the latest social media challenge— seriously, search it on YouTube, it’s pretty fantastic!