By: Jim Longworth
In the 1950s, teenagers went cruising in their cars and sometimes mooned other motorists. By the end of the decade, cramming into phone booths was all the rage. During the free-love 1960s, some teens felt empowered to smoke weed and disrobe at rock concerts. In the 1970s and 1980s, self-administered body piercings became a sign of rebellion. These kinds of activities were wacky, but for sheer stupidity, none of them could hold a candle to some of the things kids have been doing in recent years.
According to ListCrown.com, some of today’s more popular stunts include drinking a cocktail made of hand sanitizer and mouthwash. Another activity involves choking your partner until they black out. Then there’s the Cinnamon Challenge, where kids swallow large quantities of dry cinnamon powder. Sounds harmless, but according to GreatSchools.org, the National Institutes of Health said the Cinnamon Challenge could result in collapsed lungs. Another modern day teen pastime was the “Tide Pod Challenge,” where stupid kids put the detergent-filled pods in their mouth and chew it up. Even though, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, ingesting detergent pods can cause chemical burns, and induce seizures and coma.
And that brings me to the “Kiki Challenge” which went viral earlier this year. The Kiki Challenge requires the participant to jump out of a moving car, dance to the strains of Drake’s “In My Feelings,” then jump back into the moving car. On
July 23, 18-year-old Anna Worden of Bettendorf, Iowa, took the Kiki Challenge and ended up in the hospital with a fractured skull, blood clots in the ear and bleeding in the brain.
“I thought it would be fun,” she told a T.V. news reporter. That same week, a 19-year-old boy in Alabama took the Kiki challenge and was also seriously injured.
These and other dangerous activities have been on the rise over the past decade. For example, CBSNews.com reports that in 2013, an 18-year-old Georgia boy took a dare and drowned after he was tied to a shopping cart, then pushed into a lake. That same year a 19-year-old boy caused a multi-car accident when he fainted from holding his breath while driving through a tunnel in Portland, Oregon. There are many theories as to why such dangerously stupid behavior is so rampant. One is that kids just want to be seen by millions of people on YouTube. However, Dr. Katherine Ramsland of DeSales University believes it is more related to peer pressure. She told Psychology Today, “They (teens) look for novelty and are easily influenced by the latest trends, and by their need to belong to the in-group. They use dares to build their self-esteem.”
Clearly, teen stunts have become decidedly and deliberately more dangerous than ever before. At the same time, 18 and 19-year-olds want to be treated like adults, but adults don’t eat detergent or jump out of moving cars. Instead, we adults do more mature things, like smoke cigarettes, overeat, drive drunk and get addicted to opioids. Come to think of it; I guess there’s no age restriction on stupidity.
Jim Longworth is the host of “Triad Today,” airing on Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. on ABC45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 11 a.m. on WMYV (cable channel 15).