Do you remember when a few summers ago the videos of ordinary people and famous people who threw buckets of frozen water were popular on Facebook? It was 2014 and it was the Ice Bucket challenge : one of the first challenges on the web, social challenges that spread quickly to the point of becoming viral . Obviously, they mainly involve young people – mostly teenagers – so if you are around thirty you may already feel like aliens and not even know what the heck we’re talking about.
What are they the challenges?
The challenges are indeed challenges that are launched on social networks in order to be widespread and become viral. The various types of actions object of the challenge are photographed or filmed, friends and acquaintances are tagged and published on the various social channels hoping to kick off the infection . Which in many cases happens worldwide. Sometimes the challenges have a purpose of social awareness, others (indeed for the most part) are totally ends in themselves and pure fun, sometimes they are extreme challenges to the limits of the feasible and absolutely dangerous. What are they for? What drives you to launch challenges?
Often it is just a way to accumulate followers and thus increase one’s self-esteem based on social recognition: a very delicate aspect, especially in the age group of adolescents. Sometimes it’s a way to test yourself, see where your limits go. Others just have fun and a desire to experience new things.
The most famous challenges
Among the most famous challenges on the web we find the Mannequin Challenge which consisted of filming a group of people in common situations such as in the office or in line at the post office but totally immobile, as if frozen in suspended time. Another is the High Five Selfie Challenge or a challenge to throw your smartphone in the air and take a flying selfie while clapping your hands. Then there is the Neymar Challenge in which the challenge consists in imitating the famous simulation of the Brazilian footballer during the last World Cup.
But the minor challenges that run on the web are still many, many also with positive intentions, such as the Trash challenge which has an environmental footprint. In fact, it consists in cleaning up a place like a park, a forest or a beach by photographing the before and after.
The risks of social challenges
In addition to the fun and the desire to experiment, however, we cannot forget the potential danger of these challenges on social networks. Some are in fact at the limits of legality and survival, alarming challenges that become viral also accompanied by special hashtags. For example, the famous Blue Whale challenge , a sort of tragic game which was discussed a lot ago thanks also to a service of the Hyenas. This is a 50-day challenge that involves a series of self-harming tests one worse than the other, the ultimate aim of which would be suicide. Chilling. Or the Milk challenge which consists of drinking three liters of milk without stopping and then throwing up. But there is also the carsurfing Challenge which involves climbing onto the roof of a car and then remaining in balance when it is set in motion and starts. What about the Eraser Challenge ? In this absurd challenge you have to rub your arm with a rubber so long and hard that it bleeds. Until you get to the Tide Pods Challenge, one of the most famous challenges of 2018, which consists in ingesting a capsule of washing machine detergent. And we could go on and on with the list.
Extreme challenges to create a sensation and create attention in which many young people can end up joining and not feeling rejected, not to seem fearful but also to give an adrenaline rush to days lived in an always the same way and without constructive stimuli. A series of complex and very delicate dynamics on which, however, the world of social media, increasingly part of our life, leads us to reflect.