When the Guinness Book of Records initially came out, it consisted of information that could settle the kinds of debates that one has with friends about some bit of trivia, like how old was the oldest person who ever lived. But then people started doing feats of endurance (like “How long can you dance?”) or pointless (like “How many people can be on a single bicycle?) just to get themselves mentioned in the Guinness book. I shudder to think how much energy and time people have spent over the years just in the effort to get the moment of fleeting fame of getting mentioned in the book.
But with the internet, this has been cranked up to 11, because now you don’t have to go through the tedium of getting approved judges and the like to ratify your claim. Now you can simply do something bizarre, post it on social media, and hope to become a viral sensation. This has taken off with so-called ‘challenges’ where people duplicate the same stunt. We saw before the ice-bucket challenge (where people filmed themselves having a bucket of ice water poured on their heads) and now we have the milk crate challenge. But this one carries risks that doctors are warning about.
In the milk crate challenge, which recently started on TikTok, participants take on a set of milk crates precariously stacked in the shape of a pyramid, attempt to climb to the top and then back down again without toppling over.
As videos of people falling painfully go viral on social media and rack up millions of views, doctors across the US are coming out to warn people of the dangerous injuries that can occur.
“It’s perhaps even worse than falling from a ladder,” said Shawn Anthony, an orthopedic surgeon at Mount Sinai hospital in New York, to the Washington Post. “It’s very difficult to brace yourself from the falls I’ve seen in these videos. They’re putting their joints at an even higher risk for injury,” he added.
With many hospitals across the US already overwhelmed by Covid-19 patients and running short on space and staff, health departments are urging people to reconsider their choices before taking on the challenge.
George Gantsoudes, a Virginia-based orthopedic surgeon, wrote on Twitter: “The orthopaedic surgeries required to fix problems caused by this may fall under the umbrella of ‘elective surgeries’.”
On Monday, the Baltimore city health department tweeted: “With COVID-19 hospitalizations rising around the country, please check with your local hospital to see if they have a bed available for you, before attempting the #milkcratechallenge.”
The milk crate challenge is the latest of a slew of dares that have gone viral on TikTok. In recent months, the video-sharing platform has seen a rise of dangerous challenges including the blackout challenge, where young people are encouraged to hold their breath until they pass out, and the Benadryl challenge, where young people intentionally consume large amounts of the antihistamine to induce hallucinations.
This seems to me to be like the ‘dares’ that little children make to one another, to get their peers to do something risky that their parents would not approve of. But social media has upped the ante making this kind of risk taking far more widespread and increasing the danger level.