What won't teens do for a bit of excitement? If they're not overdosing on Jenkem or bubbling their way to a fever bordering on frenzy while at an after-school rainbow party, they're setting fire to themselves for the world to see. Way to go, teens of the world! We salute you! (Actually, we're quite concerned. Could you stop?) (Here comes moral panic!)
Miles Klee over at The Daily Dot points out that this trend isn't exactly new and may not actually be a trend at all, but another internet phenomenon that is inciting outrage due to just a few teens doing something stupid and putting the results on Vine and Youtube and the Snapchat (which I still can't figure out. This probably the first sign that I am officially an old). Here's a video of the delightfuly titled "Nuts and Chest Fire Challenge" that took the internet by storm last year. (And by storm I mean got 37,ooo views. That's viral, right?)
So, yes, at least one dude did actually set himself on fire and then inspired at least one more person to do the same thing. Because if the video above says anything to me it's "damn, setting your genitals on fire looks like it would be pretty awesome. It's probably just like enveloping your testicles in a Snuggie. From hell."
According to The Daily Dot at least one more teen has seriously injured himself by setting his body aflame and the incident happened in the past week. An unnamed teen from Kentucky suffered second-degree burns after setting his torso alight in the hopes of going viral on YouTube. The teen's reasoning about setting himself on fire with a combination of flame and rubbing alcohol? He didn't know that the act was actually dangerous because it's not often that these videos show the grisly aftermath of turning yourself into Adele and setting fire to your groin and sternum. What are they teaching kids in chemistry these days? All we did was set things on fire and go to the nurse's office!
And here's another, more recent video of a teen setting his buttocks on fire, which seems both safe and advisable.
Perhaps the biggest thing to come out of this "trend" is the fact that at least one video is showing the after-effects of setting yourself on fire. A recent video that has been making the rounds on LiveLeak shows a man whose Fire Challenge not only goes terribly wrong, but also includes a second video of him heavily bandaged, discussing the actual problems with his plan to achieve internet fame via becoming the human torch.
So why do something like this? The Kentucky teen who suffered burns that will impact him for the rest of his life just said "I wasn't really thinking" and that seems to be the long and short of it. When I was a teenager (and had to wait three hours for a three minute pornographic clip to finish downloading on Kazaa), the internet and its many wonders weren't as readily available, so the stupid things I did often involved cutting class to eat ice cream and smoking weed before AP English. Now that porn downloads much more quickly, teens may be getting bored even quicker. And now that these types of videos are on YouTube, what's to stop someone from watching a few and deciding to try it. After all, hand sanitizer and a lighter are only a room away.
Of course, this trend isn't as widespread as the internet may be making out to be and hopefully as more cautionary videos surface, kids will be less and less inclined to set fire to themselves and do something more productive (like share a Coke with a friend). But there's always the possibility that something worse might take the place of setting oneself on fire. It almost makes you wish that everyone would just go back to bubbling.