If you were looking for a way to break your back, the latest lunatic challenge to emerge on TikTok is the milk crate challenge. This involves stacking empty crates into a rickety, makeshift staircase and attempting to traverse it without greeting the floor with your face. The task seems simple enough, but many tries somehow end with the structure toppling over like Jenga with the challenger in mid-crossing.
Inexplicably, the trend has gone viral, racking up more than 15 million views. Videos of people snapping their bones on plastic have been making the rounds for days. Like other dangerous TikTok fads—including chugging Benadryl and gnawing a corncob stuck to a rotating power drill—health experts advise against it. But that hasn’t stopped the world from diving headfirst into challenge after hazardous challenge, despite real and potentially deadly consequences.
At the center of the controversy is TikTok itself, which has faced criticism for letting the challenges proliferate. When Fast Company reached out regarding this most recent fad, a platform spokesperson responded with the following statement:
“TikTok prohibits content that promotes or glorifies dangerous acts, and we remove videos and redirect searches to our Community Guidelines to discourage such content. We encourage everyone to exercise caution in their behavior whether online or off.”
Despite the comment—which contains mostly generic, boilerplate language—milk crate videos are still extremely easy to locate. A search for the #milkcratechallenge hashtag turns up nearly 9 million views—which also illustrates perfectly how social media, by design, often rewards acts of questionable judgment with internet clout.
But that’s not to say we should be pointing all our fingers at TikTok. With a platform that massive—TikTok boasts more than a billion monthly users—content takes on a life of its own, and it can be nearly impossible to contain, as videos are constantly reposted with various tricks that make them harder to identify via algorithm. Rather than playing the blame game, we could all do something to end the madness. For example: Full-grown adults, please stop supergluing vampire fangs to your teeth or licking random public objects to see if you catch the coronavirus.