Are American Teens and Young Adults Getting Dumber?


I think it's time to talk about the Tide Pod Challenge...er, epidemic...that is sweeping the country.

I was going to let this one slide because I've come down on millennials enough in previous posts; mainly, their choice of pop music and the fact that some of them are offended by the perennial holiday classic "Baby It's Cold Outside."

But they consistently give me too much comedic material to work with. (The latest is that young people find James Bond movies deeply offensive (gasp)! Hopefully I'll get to that one in another post.)

And in recent years, it's become painfully obvious that something disturbing is taking place among the teen and young adult generations. First, it was the Cinnamon Challenge, where kids would shovel a tablespoon of cinnamon in their mouths which would then cause them to suffocate on the spice. (Remember, kids, he who controls the spice controls the universe...but clearly, that's not you.)

Next, it was the Hot/Boiling Water Challenge where people actually pour scalding water on themselves or dip a hand into a bubbling pot on the stove. This is usually followed by the experimenter screaming, "OWWW!!! OWWWWW!! OWWWWWWW!!! THAT'S HOT!!!" in a surprised voice, as if they were expecting to actually enjoy having their skin blistered off by water registering 212 degrees or higher.

But these ventures into Duncedom are mere child's play compared to the Tide Pod Challenge. As I'm sure everyone knows by now, the Tide Pod Challenge involves biting into a Tide Pod capsule. Swallowing, optional? Who knows, but those who did manage to get that far (and even some who didn't) have ended up in the hospital. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), there were 39 reports of teens intentionally consuming Tide Pod in the first two weeks of 2018 alone. In 2017, there were 53 and in 2016, there were 39 -- which indicates this is a trend that has been on the rise for some time now.

Recently, a Utah State University student was rushed to the ER after swallowing a Tide Pod. Way to go, Tide Pod Eater's parents. Let's hope the tuition you're paying to educate him actually makes him smarter.

Then there was the genius who tried to vape a Tide Pod, just after flipping the bird to the camera. Needless to say, the Tide Pod flipped him the bird right back.

It's gotten so bad that Proctor & Gamble had Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski record a PSA where he literally says, "No no no no no no no!" and "Do not eat!" while shaking his finger at the camera to teens thinking of doing the Tide Pod Challenge, as if they were toddlers. That seems to be the mentality we're dealing with here.

Teen challenges sure have changed in recent decades. Whatever happened to phone booth, or car stuffing, or clogging up a toilet in the boys room? There's always been the occasional teen who did something stupid on a dare, but back in the day I'm pretty sure no one from my high school would have attempted to eat poison (we were the generation who grew up on Mr. Yuk, after all.)

To be fair, I don't think that the average American teen is getting dumber. And of course, it's not fair to lump all teens in with these poison eating dumb apples. Even SAT scores from 1972 to the present have remained fairly consistent, and have been slightly on the uptick. But I do think there's something sinister going on with this latest challenge, and there's definitely a disconnect when it comes to common sense.

I tried to find out where it the challenge originated from, with little luck, but one mom on Facebook said her teen daughter claimed it started out as a suicide challenge; can one cheat death by eating a Tide Pod and surviving?

The rise of social media and specifically, visual-based channels such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, have no doubt inspired these crazy ass challenges. It's easy to film a video doing something outrageous, upload it to YouTube, and get dozens of views within minutes. No doubt some of these kids are seeing that with the right content they, too, can be YouTube stars and make money from advertising revenue. They can also get famous in the process. What better way to get notoriety then to show that it's perfectly safe to eat a Tide Pod?

Or maybe it's just Darwinism doing its job. Maybe someone ought to tell these kids that the sour cherry flavored Tide Pods taste the best.

"What's the matter with kids today?"

9 comments:

  1. Great post! You hit the nail on the head with social media. This is the get-famous-at-any-cost generation. They are also lonely and disconnected. Getting attention in any way is important to them, because they don't know how to interact or communicate in person.
    Looking forward to your James Bond post. The attitude toward that topic is bewildering to me.

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    1. Thanks, Dana. You're absolutely right and I forgot to mention the lack of in-person communication skills. It's sad.

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  2. This is such an epidemic of stupidity. I actually worry for younger kids who love to browse Youtube stumbling on these idiots and all their life threatening challenges. Parents, if your young child out of the blue asks you to buy Tide Pods, you better have a long, stern talk with them before it's too late.

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  3. Good post Pam. Teenagers have always done stupid things to get attention but now it is through being "liked" on anti-social media. Also, YOUTUBE and all that other shit has raised a new generation of morons to an entirely different level of asininty.
    I don't think teenagers are any less brainless than previous generations, but there can be no doubt that their stupidity garners more attention or notice quicker than ever before. What's also sad is that the computer has to be the parent nowadays, instead of the parents, who probably shouldn't have been allowed to breed in the first place.

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    1. I will admit I do love YouTube...only because there's far more beneficial, educational content on there than brainless clips. You just have to know how to find it.

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  4. My mother comes into town, sometimes, for doctor appointments, and I drive her around and we have lunch. We often see little immigrant children (Africa, Middle East or Eastern Europe, I think) playing outside, sometimes in rough weather, kicking a ball around or playing some version of tag or hide-and-go seek.
    "Those poor little kids," she says.
    I said "Ma, they're doing the exactly the same stuff me and Daniel and the other neighborhood kids used to do. Exactly the same. They probably think they invented those games. We did. We used to play with snow."
    Well, we didn't know what a computer or a cellphone was. And Space Invaders cost a quarter.
    Which is why I got a paper route, now that I think about it.
    I'm not sure what my point is! My paternal grandfather was born in 1896. We was in WW1 and a quite old man when I was born.
    When he was a kid, there was no such thing as an airplane. The guy used to ride around in a horse and buggy. But he lived long enough to see men walk on the moon.
    He died when I was maybe four, so I never got a chance to ask him what he thought about all that.
    I'm told he thought I was okay. When I was born, he came in and took a good look at me, counted my fingers and toes and said, "well, he looks like he's all there." So my mom says.

    M.P.

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  5. They're not dumber, in fact, may be the contrary, but they're definitely more ignorant. They seem to have little understanding of what the world was prior to 1995. They grew up with generally weaker entertainment as kids, then as teens were raised by MTV and Eminem. I like a lot of Millenials as people & some are crazy smart, but feel they are the first generation to suffer at the hands of homogenization. They never sat through a really long movie like 2001 a space odyssey for example, or had the patience to explore albums.

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  6. Survival of the fittest. I'd love to read your thoughts on young people being offended by James Bond.

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