You’d be forgiven for thinking that every person under the age of 25 now lives off a diet of Tide Pods.
If you’ve gone online recently, you’ve heard of the Tide Pods meme, the challenge, and the widespread outrage the little detergent capsules have caused. Though the craze may have roots in a 2015 Onion piece, a lot of people over the past few months agree that the poisonous and colorful little packets look pretty appetizing.
Some people have actually bitten into them.
And now we have lots of local news outlets and every major news network covering Tide Pods as the Next Big Threat™ to teens.
But let’s all take a deep breath. The extremely small number of people who have actually taken the #TidePodChallenge does not in any way justify the real hysteria that has swirled around America.
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Website after website after website after website has loudly explained to everyone that you shouldn’t eat these cleaning products. And these warnings all imply that a huge number of people are regularly dining on Tide Pods. Honestly, it’s being treated like a public health emergency.
The young people talking about it on social media are honestly just being subversive young people trying to get a rise out of someone. The vast, vast, VAST majority of them are not eating Tide Pods. But the tone of almost everything written about this has served to whip up a frenzy, a panic, a scare.
To be clear, data released by the American Association of Poison Control Centers on Tuesday did show that there has been an increase in people going to the hospital for intentionally ingesting laundry detergent pods. But the numbers are relatively small. In 2017 there were 53 cases total, and in the first 15 days of 2018, there have been 39. That’s a big increase, sure, but there are over 40 million teens in America.
Doesn’t seem like the numbers tell of a destructive crisis that’s ripping America apart.
And yet. If you do any search for Tide Pods or #TidePodChallenge on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, etc. you will find example after example of furious people blasting this hot new teen “trend” as some descending evil sent here to corrode society.
Even before YouTube responded to this EMERGENCY by removing videos featuring people biting into pods, searches found exponentially more videos calling teens stupid than teens actually being stupid.
This entire situation mirrors many other moments of cultural hysteria based around a few examples and a lot of hearsay. It reminds me of the Satanic Panic in the 1980s. It reminds me of when I was learning to drive in the late ’90s and my aunt told me that if someone flashed their lights at me not to flash mine back, or they would chase me down and kill me.
The #TidePodChallenge has some things in common with other internet stunts as well. Planking, butt chugging, the knockout challenge, Slender Man — they’ve all caused panic to well up out of teens taking things too far for mainstream America.
But let’s get serious about this for one second, because there is an actual crisis hitting teens that everyone should be panicking about: opioid addiction.
According to a 2015 study by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the opioid crisis in this country has taken a real toll on teenagers.
As the study says:
[In 2015] 276,000 adolescents were current nonmedical users of pain reliever, with 122,000 having an addiction to prescription pain relievers. In 2015, an estimated 21,000 adolescents had used heroin in the past year, and an estimated 5,000 were current heroin users… The prescribing rates for prescription opioids among adolescents and young adults nearly doubled from 1994 to 2007.
This is the true danger to young people that we should probably all be talking about, and it requires a far deal more attention than a laundry detergent prank.
I’m not saying that Tide Pods aren’t a danger to people. I’m not even saying that peer pressure and social media influence is harmless with a “challenge” like this.
I am saying that making too much out of these stories is dangerous. It drowns out very real societal ills in favor of turning up the volume on goofy internet pranks.
Don’t eat Tide Pods, and don’t get super upset about things that don’t deserve so much of your mental energy. There are far greater, and much wider spread, evils out there.
Source @ Mashable