Last week, Netflix had to issue a statement urging people not to take part in “The Bird Box Challenge.”
In a nod to the Medusa story in Greek mythology, the horror movie centers on people who have to live blindfolded to keep from seeing creatures that otherwise would drive them insane.
Apparently, real-life folks are imitating the movie by trying to operate blindfolded in real spaces, then posting the videos online. You can guess how trying to drive or walk down a flight of stairs while blindfolded might end.
Last year, Proctor & Gamble had to warn people not to eat Tide Pods.
Who has to be told such a thing? Apparently people looking to become Kardashian-famous.
In years past, there has been the Ingesting Cinnamon Challenge, the Ghost Chili Challenge and the Setting-Yourself-on-Fire Challenge, all of which seem to have the common thread of causing irreparable harm to yourself while your friends laugh.
Bobby Soxers to Beatles
Now, we know that fads are as old as popular culture itself. Every generation has its goofy, quirky moments in which people get caught up doing or wearing things that make no sense.
In the 1920s, it was flag-pole sitting, dance marathons, wing-walking and girls bobbing both their hair and their hemlines.
In the 1940s, “Bobby Soxers” cried and swooned over Frank Sinatra. They grew up to be parents bewildered at the spectacle of their daughters screaming the house down over the Beatles.
In the 1970s, people were late for class because they couldn’t navigate hallways and stairs within three minutes; not while wearing platform shoes.
How is it we’re rarely champing at the bit these days to imitate good stuff?
Remember when all everyone wanted to do was “pay it forward?”
When we embrace good fads, the results can be amazing. In 2014, for instance, the Ice Bucket Challenge raised millions for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) research.
There’s camaraderie in being part of a fad, no matter how silly it might seem to others. Why else did ordinarily rational folks push and shove to get their hands on Cabbage Patch Dolls and Beanie Babies?
What other reason could there be for people who don’t practice yoga to pay $50 for yoga pants?
But wouldn’t it be nice if we endeavored to imitate those who try in all sincerity to live out the tenets of their faith or personal principles? If we tried to pattern ourselves more after those who are kind, who volunteer in their communities, who serve in the military out of sheer love of country?
Last week, after Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield was fined $10,026 by the NFL for allegedly making an obscene gesture at one of his coaches, some fans started a GoFundMe account to pay for it. But Mayfield, who can well afford to pay the fine himself, said he wants the raised money to go to Providence House, a Cleveland-based charity.
While we don’t need more people making obscene gestures, it was a smart way to get fans to follow his lead in doing something good for others.
How much better could America be if we all challenged ourselves to be more thoughtful, more encouraging to one another and less confrontational?
Admittedly, none of the above has quite the sex appeal of staggering through the woods while blindfolded or ingesting laundry detergent.
But it’s worth thinking about.
Reach Charita M. Goshay at 330-580-8313 or firstname.lastname@example.org.