Sometimes I read the news and it leaves me aghast. All right, it leaves me aghast almost every day, but that’s on the political front. Culturally, I see what young people are doing and think that the only thing going through their heads is the wind.
The Tide Pod Craze
By now, of course, anyone who doesn’t live on Mars knows that teens and other young people are daring one another to chew on Tide Pods. For people who don’t do laundry, these are tidy (hah!) little packets of highly concentrated detergent designed for those people who do process laundry to throw into the washing machine.
Two things: (1) Tide Pods are filled with laundry detergent so they can perform their primary function of cleaning clothes. (2) Tide Pods are toxic and not meant for human consumption or even chewing.
Got that? Good. Because it has clearly escaped young people that putting poison in your mouth is Not. A. Good. Idea. At best it will make you froth at the mouth like a rabid coyote. At worst, it will kill you. Somewhere in between you are likely to find yourself in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.
Tide Goes to College
Some of these Tide Pod chewers are actually university students, so it would be fair to assume that they have enough intelligence to get a good SAT score and rack up the necessary grades for admission. So why are they engaging in this truly stupid activity?
Well a video went out called “The Tide Pod Challenge” that essentially dared kids to do it and post videos of themselves foaming at the mouth in pretty colors. That seems to be all it took for the dare to spread and that led to young people taking videos of their friends “eating” the Tide Pods to put up on YouTube.
CBS News tells us that, “In the first 15 days of the year, poison control centers said that they have handled 39 cases of intentional misuse among 13 to 19 year olds. Poison control centers handled 53 such cases for all of last year.”
Now, young people have been doing truly stupid things for decades. Back in the Roaring Twenties, the games of choice were eating goldfish and cramming as many people as possible into a phone booth. While these fads were dumb, at least they didn’t endanger the health of anyone but the unfortunate goldfish.
The Health Effects of Tide Pods
The effects of putting Tide Pods in your mouth and perhaps ingesting them, even accidentally, are pretty grave: vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, breathing difficulties and loss of consciousness. Also, burns to the skin, eyes, esophagus, mouth, and respiratory tract.
You may soon find yourself on a stretcher in the ER getting your stomach pumped. (This is not a pleasant experience.) If you happen to breathe in the detergent—easy to do when you’re gasping—you get the stuff in your lungs and even the best docs can’t wash out your lungs.
For a detailed explanation of what happens when you put a Tide Pod in your mouth, read this article in Cosmopolitan.
BTW: Kids might not think of this but ambulance trips to the ER and subsequent medical treatment cost real money in the United States. Their parents might get the rude surprise of finding that they have hit their high deductible in one fell swoop thanks to Juniors’ action.
The Challenge Response
Procter and Gamble, manufacturers of Tide Pods have responded by discouraging anyone from putting Tide Pods in their mouth, including by producing their own video discouraging anyone from taking the “challenge.” Rumors sprang up that the company would discontinue manufacturing Tide Pods. But, really, P&C is not the problem.
The problem lies with YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and SnapChat, the social media sites that publish the videos of teenagers and twentysomethings doing their best to wash out their mouths with highly toxic soap. (Would someone please give Donald Trump a Tide Pod and tell him it’s part of his MAGA Meal. Washing his mouth out with soap might improve his language.) To their credit, YouTube and Facebook are removing the videos so as to remove the incentive.
The View from Up Here
From the perspective of people my age, the Tide Pod Challenge takes stupidity to a whole new level. In our youth, we were busy with important things: protesting the Vietnam War, marching for Civil Rights, drinking beer. staying out past curfew, and rooting for the Red Sox when they were losers.
When someone dares you to do anything, you should first think, “Why does he/she want me to do this?” The answer might help with the next two responses.
- “If you think this is such a great idea, why don’t you do it first?”
- “I’m not a chicken. The chicken dares other people to do something that they won’t do themselves.
- Walk away. Laughing.
Enough said. I have to go do the laundry.