The 10 year challenge tripping social media these days is simple — find a photo of yours from 2009, then, a current photo in which you look younger, fitter, perkier and post them side by side. The objective is simple — make people respond with ‘unbelievable’ or ‘you haven’t changed a bit’ or ‘you look hotter now’. Job done. Thankfully, in this challenge, people are not ‘tagging’ others to take over the baton, like in that ‘I dare you to post a B&W photo of yours’ that sounded like a call to a duel.
‘Challenges’ in social media are hugely popular in current times, grabbing our collective eyeballs, leaving none for that wheel-chaired guy who conquered a mountain peak, or the gentleman with the genetically malformed cochlea who won a Grammy. Sometimes, not even their own eyeballs! They are now doubting their achievements and trying the Kiki challenge to gain some respect back for themselves in their own eyes.
The Planking Challenge is the oldest, as far as I know. It involved people planking in unusual places and situations: like the middle of the road, atop a car or during childbirth. The term planking originated in 2008 in Australia when Sam Weckert, who, when his wife was at her mother’s place and had left the wine cellar unlocked, decided to create a Facebook page to share the best planking photos. Since then, there have been many variations, including gallon smashing, owling, and the best of the best, tebowing. All of them involved people striking strange poses with no apparent benefit to them or humanity, and posting them on social media.
The most famous one perhaps, was the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge drawing in celebrities, such as Oprah, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates to pour buckets of water over them. The challenge took form in 2014 when golfer Chris Kennedy was nominated by a friend to partake in the Ice Bucket Challenge. People stampeded to fetch bucketfuls of water to tip over their heads leaving neighbourhood squirrels puzzled. ‘Edgar, hooman goin crezy. We tek over dat house?’
According to one unconfirmed report, it cost more to treat those catching a chill from all that ice-cold water than the funds raised for helping the cause of ALS.
Then, there was the Cinnamon Challenge invented by Daisy whose online grocery delivery order mixed up the quantities she’d mentioned for cinnamon and washing powder. So this challenge demanded that people eat a spoonful of ground cinnamon in under 60 seconds without drinking anything. Toilets smelt like apple pie for many days during the peak of this challenge.
And, finally there was the Mannequin Challenge, requiring people to remain frozen like mannequins while a song, usually Black Beatles by Rae Sremmurd, played in the background. This challenge originated at Edward H White High School in Jacksonville, Florida, when a student decided to stand completely still at the front of the class and other students joined in. The teacher grabbed this opportunity to teach the entire syllabus for the semester.
I am inspired to start my own challenge. I am calling it: #potholechallenge. You will need to fill all potholes in the city with cinnamon powder and plank on those. Then pour water over yourself to seal them.
(Bestselling author Rachna Singh is a sit-down comedienne)