2019 Social Media Epidemic: #10YearsChallenge
If all your friends put their hand in a lump of hot coal, would you? Apparently, the answer is a resounding yes, and this is nowhere more pronounced than in social media with its celebrated and viral internet challenges.
Over the years, we have had a number of internet challenges. As early as 2000, we had the Saltine Cracker challenge and Sprite and Banana challenge. Then in 2001, it was the cinnamon challenge (where you have to swallow a teaspoon of cinnamon without drinking anything. The choking reaction become the fun). In 2005, we had the Salt and Ice challenge which according to Know your meme arrived in the form of a video uploaded to break.com in 2005.
Fast forward to 2011 it was the Hot Pepper challenge and then in 2012, the Condom challenge – which involves snorting a condom up through one nostril and pulling it out through the other. By 2013, some YouTube users began the fire challenge, that is, getting open flames close to the body without being hurt. The following year, 2014, we had the most popular internet challenge – the Ice Bucket Challenge. This was not just popular because of the fun in it, but also, it served as a means of donating money to the ALS research. This challenge which lasted for a long time was able to raise an average of 120 million dollars to fund research on ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis).
It is not surprising in 2019 to see another internet challenge. This time around, it is the 10-year-challenge with the hashtag #10YearChallenge all over the major social media sites. This challenge involves people sharing a throwback picture of themselves to a recent one (2009 – 2019, or 2008 – 2018). Celebrities on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook uploaded their throwback pictures and not long, many other social media users joined the trend. Remember I pointed out that people are likely to put their hand on hot coal because they saw their friends and role models do that. We will get back to this point.
Evaluating the #10YearChallenge trend, I see it as more than just a fun, I do hope that those who participate in this game would see beyond the fun as well.
- It is a challenge of appreciation. I think everyone who undertakes that challenge should be grateful to God for life and the changes so far. Although with the aid of Photoshop, makeover and makeup, some are looking way better than they were before, yet we must appreciate the change so far we have undergone.
- It is a challenge of self-examination. Apart from the physical metamorphosis, what again changed? Your finances, intellectual capacity, creativity, maturity, spirituality change? Are are you the same child you were who happen to merely posses an adult body? Did you change from a boy to a woman or from a girl to a man, or even from a human to an object? Oh yeah, that is possible. Laconically, if actually, your sense of purpose and maturity did not change after that 10 years then that is unfortunate.
It is unarguable that the Internet challenge has come to stay. Thus, we will always see challenges on social media. While some are weird, some are meaningless while others are fun and productive. However, does one bother to ask why such things quickly spread like fire in a harmattan wind?
It is obvious that we all spend time in social networks of people – this may be offline (in church, at work etc) or online (through social media apps). It is also a fact that through such a connection we can acquire new behaviour (good or bad). We may not really realize the huge influence that social media have on us as relational animals.
Last year, I read a book stumbled across a book entitled Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler. The authors examined the relationship between individuals and the network of people that directly or indirectly influence their lives. They explained why certain behaviours are contagious, why obesity (and the desire for six packs) can be contagious, why the rich get richer, and even how we find and choose our partners.
We usually think that we are in charge of our day-to-day lives, but indeed most of what we do is significantly influenced by those around us. Our actions on social media can change the behaviours, the beliefs, and even the basic health of people we have never met.
In his paper on obesity, that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007, Christakis went further to hold the view that if someone became clinically obese, their friends were 57% more likely also to become obese. That could also affect a friend of a friend of that obese person. This also implies that if a person began to smoke for the first time, the chances of their friend doing the same increased by 36%.
Back to my earlier assertion. Yes, you can put your hand on a lump of hot coal because your friends on social media are doing that! This is quite mind blogging, but also an eye opener for us on the need to be cautious on social media. However, it is not all bad news. We can generate and retain a flow of desirable and valuable attitude when we keep such energy around us. Our happiness is connected with the happiness of people three degrees removed from us; whether we’re happy or not depends in part on our friends’ friends’ friends and so on.
May we always choose to do the right thing, and not just plunge into action because we see our friends and celebrity doing that.
Until then, let us enjoy the #10YearChallenge epidemic while it lasts.