Social network challenges end in tragedy

A photo shows people sit around laptop computers at a cafe in Beijing on May 29, 2013
A photo shows people sit around laptop computers at a cafe in Beijing on May 29, 2013

Online challenges daring people to set themselves ablaze or douse themselves in ice water are racking up casualties and fueling wonder regarding idiocy in the Internet age.

US media reported that a teenager was recovering on Friday from second-degree burns caused by pouring rubbing alcohol on himself and igniting it in a take on a dangerous "fire challenge" shown in videos posted at YouTube and Facebook.

A glance online at Twitter posts with hashtag #firechallenge showed a video clip of a young man apparently setting fire to himself in a bathtub, only to fall out in a desperate scramble to douse the flames and remove his burning shorts.

"Are humans getting more stupid or is this just my perception?" a Twitter user asked rhetorically in a post with the same hashtag.

"You've got to be a complete #dumbass to set yourself on fire for five minutes of fame," another member of the one-to-many message service contended in a different post.

An array of people who took part in a lively online exchange sparked by the teenager's self-inflicted burns reasoned that it could be natural selection playing out on the Internet stage.

News outlets in Germany earlier this week reported that a man there was crushed to death by a large piece of digging machinery being used to take part in another Facebook craze called the "cold water challenge."

A huge bucket holding thousands of liters of water was being hoisted to dump on a small group of men when the digger toppled, killing one of them and injuring five others, according to reports.

It was said to be the latest in a series of fatalities related to the cold water challenge.

The challenge has spread on Facebook, with friends calling on one another to brave being doused, or plunging into, frigid water. Those challenged are called on to donate money to charity if they fail to complete it within a day.

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© 2014 AFP

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Aug 02, 2014
Did people not engage in really stupid, dangerous activities prior to the advent of the Internet and social networking? All we've gained with the Internet is publicity. So some of us are made more aware that some people do really stupid things

Aug 02, 2014
I don't think there is any statistics, but I would like to think that there is more awareness but also more awareness of the outcomes. And humanity has grown in size, so the tail ends of a distribution of fools are both more numerous and more foolish. #WeWhoSurvived

Aug 02, 2014
isn't BHO's campaign heavily into social networking?

Aug 02, 2014
isn't BHO's campaign heavily into social networking?
Yes but he's recruiting Nazis to entice Russia to deploy 64 megatonne hydrogen heaters to bring his Facebook follower's buttocks up to 10,000 degrees with images stolen from Google in 2010. This will get far more likes than simply setting oneself ablaze in a bathtub

Aug 02, 2014
Yes people are getting dumber with every gen. This is what happens when you remove the naturally-occurring attritive elements of nature.

And this is also one of the many reasons why wars are staged and the results predetermined. Wars serve to cull the stupid and keep them from reproducing during the process. Much better to decide beforehand who gets culled and who doesn't, generally speaking.

Except for times like toward the end of ww2 when Russians invaded german territory and began raping any german woman they could get their hands on. But then anyone who survived the crucible of the eastern front for 5 years had to be a cut above.

In the wars of history and prehistory this is not so uncommon yes? War itself acts as a form of natural selection in the absence of nature. To the victor go the spoils.

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