Laundry Detergent… or Food?

By Olivia Pocat

Although the trend, of eating Tide Pods, is an old one from early 2018, this challenge demonstrates the problems with TikTok trends and similar trends circulating across other social medias, and the negative effect they can have on society. The Tide Pod Challenge has been dubbed dangerous by many scientists and plenty of researchers, as well as most adults and responsible individuals. To teenagers, this challenge might have seemed fun or interesting to partake in, but the stakes were very high, and the consequences were death. In the past, we’ve heard of pets or young children accidentally indulging in a Tide Pod, thinking it looked like candy or some other type of delectable snack. In 2017, 10,500 young children were exposed to the detergent. However, the consequence for ingesting this poison, which is meant as laundry detergent, not food, is death or serious injury. 

Some researchers have blamed the brand for making the Pods look like candy, making them appealing to the eye. But, is it the brand’s fault for making poison appealing, the app for spreading the harmful trend, or the daring teenagers who wished to partake in this dangerous activity, knowing the consequences of their actions? Videos on social media showed kids biting into these brightly colored detergent packets, or cooking them in a frying pan before eating the liquid and spewing it out of their mouths almost immediately. Even though the origin of the Tide Pod challenge was unknown, a 2017 video of a college student researching the negative effects of ingesting the detergent, and then proceeding to eat it might  have been the cause. He ended up on an ambulance stretcher, but though the effects were clear, other teenagers thought it would be fun to engage with this challenge. The brand took extreme steps to try and communicate the message that this product should not be indulged, even recruiting Rob Gronkowski in a promotional video against the ingestion of the detergent. This challenge has slowly died off, teenagers finally realized   the negative effects and decided not to purposefully indulge in this poison. The effect which it had, and its circulation through social media, highlights  the negative effects which dangerous challenges that gain momentum on social media apps have on teenagers.