Internet Challenges

By: Reyshimar Arguelles

THE Internet has become a very weird place. Come to think of it, it gets even weirder as the years come along. One moment we’re dumping ice cubes over our heads, and the next we’re causing traffic mayhem courtesy of the “Kiki Do You Love Me” craze. It’s all good-natured fun until someone gets hurt. And here I thought we have fully developed brains capable of thinking properly.

But stupidity has existed throughout the centuries, so we can’t exactly blame the Internet for causing this disease. It has always been there and the fact that the people we elect into office have been infected is hardly a serious issue. Stupidity is simply a condition that is as natural as pheromones, and yet it’s also the catalyst for our eventual demise as a species. Forget about apocalyptic events when you can simply replicate these events from media because we get a kick out of it!

Just recently, people have taken an interest in the Netflix film Birdbox starring Sandra Bullock and John “Cyrus the Virus” Malkovich. The film is set in a world swept by creatures (some might say demons) with interesting abilities: people who get to see them commit suicide in the most horrific and violent manner. In order to survive, the remaining humans will to have to move around wearing blindfolds and fighting off other humans who have become servants of these creatures.

The plot borrows heavily from weird fiction where ordinary humans will have to deal with unknown terrors and stretch the limits of their comprehension of reality. One author I would like to point out as an example of this tradition is H.P. Lovecraft, dubbed the creator of the Cthulhu Mythos which see the universe as a cruel and nightmarish place populated by all powerful and indifferent beings. In his short stories, Lovecraft’s characters are described as upright skeptics who are eventually lead themselves into madness either by knowing a horrific secret about one’s family origins or coming face to face with the monstrous gods themselves.

It’s because of this device, this fear of the incomprehensible that makes Lovecraft so potent as a horror writer. The novel that Bird Box was based on also played with this device and its full effectiveness manifested in the film adaptation, which was a bit lackluster if you compare it to The Mist. There’s something intriguing in having an unseen force as the main villain of the story, and somehow this appeals to people who will go so far as to make complete fools of themselves.

Despite repeated warnings from Netflix, people have been taking the Bird Box Challenge where they have to run errands while blindfolded. Indeed, you don’t have to be a genius to point out how dangerous this would be to people who take Internet challenges like they were a test of strength. Sure enough, a teenager in Utah crashed her car after driving with a hat covering her eyes. No injuries were reported, but it was clear that authorities are not taking this lightly. They slapped the girl with a reckless driving charge.

If the sole reason was for people to know what it’s like to live in a post-apocalyptic world, they don’t have to look far. Internet challenges are like the creatures in the film and the gods of Lovecraft’s world. We cannot fully comprehend them, and there’s no need to. But our curiosities lead us towards them only to come out as the victims of our own doing.

This should lead us into thinking about the Internet’s role in spreading misinformation and the plague of online challenges like the BIrd Box Challenge. And yet, while riding a jeepney, I saw a college student using his phone to read a PDF reviewer on Logic. The world isn’t ending just yet, I thought.


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