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Column: Darwin is calling

Posted: January 15, 2018 4:11 p.m.
Updated: January 16, 2018 1:00 a.m.

As if I needed yet more proof that the idiocracy is here, now and firmly established as the new normal in our society and our world, along comes the latest bit of internet drivel, something called the Tide Pod Challenge.

Apparently, kids are video recording themselves biting a Tide Pod – that is, a plastic package of extremely concentrated liquid laundry detergent -- apparently in the name of all things hilarious.

I suppose humor can be found in watching some moron choke to death from attempting to ingest what amounts to the active ingredient of napalm. I also would guess that every generation engages in pastimes that cause much head shaking in previous generations. 

I remember a family story about some relative way back in the day, who talked his little brother, then maybe 4 years old, into putting the family dog’s tail in his mouth.

“I’ll give you a nickel if you put Snip’s tail in your mouth,” he said.

The younger one, of course, immediately put the tip of the dog’s tail into his mouth, then held out his hand.

“Oh, no -- you gotta do the whole tail,” big brother said. Little brother then put the rest of the dog’s tail into his mouth. I’m guessing it looked like he was blowing a bugle shaped like a fox terrier.

A couple of minutes, a pair of behind whippings and a half hour of washing a young mouth out with soap later, little brother was five cents richer -- good money for 1905, perhaps, but a mighty tough way to make a living.

Later, in the height of the roaring ‘20s, I’m sure my great-grandparents found such activities as swallowing goldfish or flagpole sitting to be utterly idiotic. 

Come to think of it, so do I.

Likewise, I’m sure my parents found such things as disco and fad diets to be ludicrous.

Come to think of it, so do I.

But those things weren’t inherently life threatening, or even particularly dangerous. True, putting the dog’s tail in one’s mouth is pretty disgusting, but probably not any more disgusting than ingesting, say, a celery smoothie and not any more potentially life-threatening, unless the dog takes extreme umbrage.

Had my parents known back in the day that I was doing things like attempting to jump my bicycle across drainage ditch culverts or engaging in close combat with bottle rockets and/or BB guns, they would have had a canary. Television shows like Jackass, which is one of my favorites as far as crude humor and stupid stunts go, probably didn’t do much to help alleviate the prevalence of modern youth spending an inordinate amount of time gunning for the Darwin Awards. 

On the other hand, youthful exuberance and lack of judgment aside, if you are, in fact, stupid enough to do something like that, then you truly deserve whatever happens to you.  The guys who did the Jackass show also happened to be trained stunt professionals. They (theoretically) were well aware of the risk v. reward regarding what they were doing and were OK with that. 

And yes, I do think it’s funny to watch a couple of guys do something bright like shoot a bottle rocket into a wasp nest, then get stung repeatedly for their efforts. I thought it was hysterical when Johnny Knoxville was able to talk Brittney Spears into locking herself into a very full port-o-potty and allowing herself to be launched high into the air via giant bungee cords. 

What can I say: I’ve got an extremely twisted and juvenile sense of humor. So sue me.

The caveat, if any, is that I may laugh at you all day long, but I will not ever call you a victim, although I probably will call you a fool.

The Tide Pod Challenge, however, is just a bit too much to swallow, pardon the pun. There is simply no good outcome. There is absolutely nothing funny about willfully ingesting highly caustic acids and extremely lethal poisons. 

And make no mistake, unless you’re 3 years old and just don’t know any better, if you willingly bite a Tide Pod, you are definitely not a victim; you are just a garden-variety fool. 


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