By now — assuming you haven’t been living under a rock, or in some sort of dystopian horror scenario — you’ve probably heard of Bird Box. Though critics were less than impressed with the film, fans begged to differ. Bird Box, starring Sandra Bullock, is Netflix’s biggest hit to date with over 45 million accounts tuning in to watch it in its first seven days. The movie’s premise — that catching a glimpse of a demonic creature causes you to see your worst fear and kill yourself — means that Bullock and her co-stars spend much of the movie blindfolded. And this has led to some pretty interesting real-world situations.
Took off my blindfold this morning to discover that 45,037,125 Netflix accounts have already watched Bird Box — best first 7 days ever for a Netflix film! pic.twitter.com/uorU3cSzHR
— Netflix Film (@NetflixFilm) December 28, 2018
At around 10 a.m. on January 2, Netflix tweeted out a warning: “Can’t believe I have to say this, but: PLEASE DO NOT HURT YOURSELVES WITH THIS BIRD BOX CHALLENGE. We don’t know how this started, and we appreciate the love, but Boy and Girl have just one wish for 2019 and it is that you not end up in the hospital due to memes.” (Boy and Girl are Bullock’s two nameless children in the film whom she is trying to save from the demon.)
Can’t believe I have to say this, but: PLEASE DO NOT HURT YOURSELVES WITH THIS BIRD BOX CHALLENGE. We don’t know how this started, and we appreciate the love, but Boy and Girl have just one wish for 2019 and it is that you not end up in the hospital due to memes.
— Netflix US (@netflix) January 2, 2019
The film, it seems, had spawned a challenge. The Bird Box Challenge. What, you may ask, is the Bird Box Challenge? Simple, go about your everyday life… blindfolded. What could go wrong?
Well, pretty much everything. Here’s a guy whose attempt at the challenge landed him passed out at the bottom of a flight of stairs:
— Tommy (@THOMAS_RE89) December 25, 2018
And here’s a guy who smacked his baby into a wall:
CBS News posted a compilation of Bird Box Challenge videos that feature people pouring hot coffee, shaving someone’s head, and walking with two small children through the woods, all while blindfolded.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 3, 2019
It would funny if it wasn’t so incredibly stupid — and dangerous. But the worst part of it, in my opinion, is what it says about how far people are willing to go for their 15 minutes (or even seconds) of fame.
With the advent of social media, everyone has a platform — even total idiots. And, if you do something outrageous enough, someone is bound to see it, like it, and share it around. And then, suddenly, you’re famous!
But at what cost? I mean, it’s one thing to totally nail the #InMyFeelings Challenge (flawlessly pulling off the moves of a choreographed dance). That’s harmless — at least I assume it is. But that guy at the bottom of those stairs and that baby in the little green onesie — and lots of other people — are actually getting hurt!
I mean, sure, stupid people have always been stupid. So it makes sense that a stupid person with a social media account is going to post stupid things. So, in that sense, nothing’s really changed except that now everyone can see how stupid stupid people are. But it’s also possible that the stupidity of stupid people becomes stupider when incentivized by fame. If you’re already inclined to do something stupid, and you find out that doing that stupid thing could make you famous, then you might be more likely to actually do it.
The question, I suppose, is: has the promise of internet stardom caused otherwise not stupid people to become stupid? It certainly makes polite people rude, and calm people angry, and rational people irrational. Just think about the ways people interact with each other on social media. Most of them would never act like that with someone face to face! So, it stands to reason that, sometimes at least, social media has the power to make smart people do stupid things.
Hey, how about this for a New Year’s resolution: don’t do stupid things. Bird Box Challenge is a stupid thing. Don’t do it.