Sunday , February 11, 2018 - 12:00 AM
Believe it or not, January 2018 wasn’t the first time eating Tide Pods came to light.
In 2015, The Onion published an article about a child who wanted to eat a Tide Pod. In 2017, College Humor posted a video of a man eating a bowl of Tide Pods and being carted off in an ambulance saying that he didn’t regret it.
The question most people have, though, is, “Why would anyone ever eat a Tide Pod?”
At first glance, it may seem like a social media craze that hopefully everyone will get over before 2019, but there are psychological and scientific reasons why our Laundry Detergent-Eating Counterparts are having trouble avoiding temptation.
To begin, Tide Pods are both glossy and feel soft in your hands, feeling somewhat like a fruit — something humans are instinctively drawn to. What’s even more appealing is the coloring of the little laundry pods. In advertising, there are many colors that draw the human eye. The blue, white and orange packets may not seem like food, but those colors typically pique our interest to perhaps try the multicolored poison.
There have been many studies about people wanting to eat objects that mimic food, both in appearance and smell — bath bombs, shower gel and even shampoo. Yes, people have tried eating all of these.
Also, all the warnings surrounding the Tide Pods have turned them into a Forbidden Fruit that more and more folks are partaking of and landing themselves in the emergency room. From a psychological standpoint, declaring the pods off-limits just makes them more appealing.
On top of the Forbidden Fruit Effect the warnings have had, the attention the media has given the fad may be inspiring others to join the ranks of Tide Pod Eaters for their five seconds of fame.
“I think media coverage could have two affects,” says Sydney Taylor, a senior at Syracuse High School. “One, parents see it and are able to stop/deter their kids from doing it. Two, kids see it and take it as a challenge rather than a warning.”
In a social media-driven world, the crazier the stunt, the more attention you get — and the more followers. For example, following the Logan Paul incident, the YouTuber, who filmed a dead body after a man had committed suicide in Japan, gained more followers than he lost.
Over the past few years, there have been some major challenges that have come out, and not all of them have been bad. The Ice Bucket Challenge, for instance, was a great way to raise awareness for ALS and contribute money to research dedicated to ending it.
Other crazes haven’t been as good. The Blue Whale Challenge has resulted in many deaths and the Salt and Ice Challenge has landed many in the emergency room. Blue Whale “recruits” members through SnapChat and has them download the app “After School” or “Blue Whale Challenge.” The only way to win is to die by suicide after completing 50 tasks that get more and more detrimental — cutting a whale into your skin, hanging off rooftops and watching disturbing videos and posting them all online.
The Salt and Ice Challenge revolves around putting salt on your skin and ice on top of it, leaving second- and third-degree injuries much like frostbite.
The problem with these challenges is that some people do watch and feel pressure to continue “for the fans.” By viewing a picture, liking a video, or leaving a comment (even telling someone to stop the behavior), it boosts the algorithms that social media is run by and only makes it more popular.
“I saw something that talked about how any attention is still attention. People see the attention that others (get) and want (attention),” said Emma Hogge, a senior at Roy High School.
The majority of people participating in the Tide Pod Challenge are just biting the pods and spitting them out. The concentration of laundry detergent in the pods is much higher than in regular detergent, causing chemical burns in the mouth, esophagus and stomach. Even just swallowing a tiny amount can cause intense diarrhea and vomiting, and the detergent can be aspirated and cause immediate damage to the lungs.
Spitting the pods out doesn’t make it any less stupid, but the damage is typically contained to the mouth and upper esophagus.
The Tide Pod Challenge is the same as any other challenge; doing dangerous things makes people want to watch and share. People tend to share things that make them feel a strong emotion, be it disgust, anger or joy.
The best thing you can do is to ignore the pod-eating videos that pop up on your feed, listen to the warning labels and remember that everything you share has an impact.
Jennifer Greenlee is a senior at Syracuse High School where she is editor of the school newspaper. Email her at email@example.com.
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