I’ve seen some remarks in the comments section of articles relating to the Tide Pod challenge that aren’t only ridiculous, they are downright obscene. Upon hearing some children have died as a result of the challenge, people have quipped “this is natural selection at work,” and “if your kid is this stupid, they deserve to die.”

What began as a satirical article in the Onion in 2015 has resurfaced as a meme that went viral last year. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, centers across the country handled 39 cases of people ages 13-19 ingesting laundry detergent in 2016, 53 cases in 2017, and 39 already in the first two weeks of 2018, Buzzfeed News reported.

They also said the pods “dissolve quickly and release highly concentrated toxic chemicals when contacted with . . . saliva,” which can lead to harmful effects including “seizures, pulmonary edema, respiratory arrest, coma, and even death.”

Apparently, some people believe this is a good thing. You know, to weed out the stupid.

But here’s the thing — kids have been partaking in dumb shit since – forever. Kids, by nature, will test limits, do things as a dare and are sometimes attracted to dangerous activities. Back in the day, kids as young as 4 and 5 rode their bikes miles away from home (even when parents knew of a phenomenon called kidnapping), carried pocketknives, set shit on fire, and participated other shady behaviors.

Does this mean all children who push the limits or do things they know aren’t right but do it anyway in the name of saving face, should be dead?

It’s the job of parents and adults to teach kids right from wrong, not shame them as a generation into believing if they do something ridiculous or suffer a moment of weakness due to peer pressure, they’d be better off dead.

Especially in the age of social media, when getting “likes” and followers is viewed as more important than almost anything else, being seen as follow-worthy can unfortunately means putting yourself out there. Christ, Logan Paul, the “infamous” YouTuber who posted a person who’d just committed suicide on video still has almost 16 million followers. Should all those folks be dead by default for being dumb enough to follow him?

According to Psychology Today, there is an emotional theory of play, which says most mammals actually teach our young how to regulate fear and anger through dangerous activities. Things like swinging on ropes, sliding on sleds or playground slides, riding bikes, learning to shoot a gun, even playing hide and seek. We often teach our own kids the thrill of controlled danger. Then we are surprised when some kids push the limits further.

Does this mean teaching our kid to ride a bike means they will eat a Tide pod someday? Of course not. But dismissing this behavior or wishing harm for them because they should “know better” or because “they get what they deserve” is unacceptable.

Most of us have done some pretty dumb things in our day. We aren’t smarter than anyone else that it didn’t end in disaster – we are just lucky.

Julie Scagell

Julie has a Masters degree in Psychology, which has proved useless in trying to understand her teenaged daughter. She has the attention span of a gnat, zero sense of direction and loses at least 3 things every day. Except for a minor situation at a county fair, her children are not on the short list of items she’s lost. She is extremely proud of this. You can find her writing on Facebook or Twitter. She has been published on the Washington Post, Babble, McSweeney’s, Scary Mommy, and Huffington Post, among others.

1 Comment

  1. This article is beyond ridiculous. Those ‘other’ activities – like biking further than away from home, playing with anything combustible or carrying a pocketknife – might incur heightened levels of ‘danger’, but aren’t remotely the same as ingesting chemicals that incur innately severe adverse effects on your body. The activities listed near the conclusion have the potential to build character, even teach lessons along the way. There is no lesson to be taught in surviving the ingestion of a tide pod.

    I could understand your stance if your goal was to curb this idiotic ‘trend’ and to rally against the remarks on the internet calling for their deaths, but advocating that these morons be shielded from any blame for being downright stupid makes you as ignorant as they are – and is why this article is laughable.

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