The Weekly Read: Five outrageous college fads you don’t want to try
This is the latest of our entries in an Irish Independent student journalist competition, in association with Campus.ie
The fact is that we have all willingly engaged in countless trends on campus over the time we’ve been in college: trudging into the bustle of a burrito bar behind that over-eager, ever so slightly pretentious classmate.
Or that walk home spent attempting to capture a friend’s pathetic attempts at planking on top of Molly Malone’s wheelbarrow in the less forgiving hours of the morning. Or trying to console a friend that the floral playsuit she wore was fabulous, even in three degree weather (and ‘don’t mind those jealous cows’!).
However, in universities just like ours across the Atlantic, students are putting their lives on the line to sample some of the most ludicrous and dangerous fads that have ever infiltrated a college campus. Here are some of the worst offenders. Please note, we don’t condone any of this behaviour and please don’t try them at home.
1) Drinking hand sanitiser. This is one I heard whispers of in my own arts block several years ago after the global threat of swine flu erupted and gave us the precious gift of hand sanitizer dispensers every few meters, but which was dismissed as an urban myth. However, the LA Times has reported it to be a very real and impending trend, which resulted in the hospitalisation of six Californian teens. Hand sanitiser contains 62% ethyl alcohol, which can be extracted very simply using salt to produce almost 100% strength alcohol, and taken as a potentially fatal shot. A few shots can cause diarrhoea and irreversible organ damage. Lovely.
2) The Cinnamon Challenge. The nonsensical goal of this one is to ingest a tablespoon of cinnamon in one mouthful. Simple right? The human body does not in fact have enough saliva for significant digestion to occur, and in such a considerable amount can end up causing liver damage. If inhaled, it can lead to pneumonia and the LA Times claim that poison centres had more than 139 calls in 2012 following cinnamon ingestion incidents.
3) Vodka Eyeballing. This craze is thought to have originated in bars in Las Vegas and has already infected numerous British universities. The idea is to absorb alcohol through the veins at the back of your eye, to produce a high from the extremely speedy delivery of alcohol into the bloodstream. However, some teenagers who have partaken in it have created permanent eye damage and several experience constant ocular pain and watering, and it is thought to cause diminishing vision. Indeed, doctors claim that vodka is so corrosive that it enters the eye by literally searing the cornea. That certainly sounds fun.
4) Deodorant Flame-throwing. Usually performed with an American brand called Axe, a product that is seemingly so toxic that the City of Minneapolis School Board created official classes on the dangers of overuse, the basic idea is to spray an aerosol continuously over a lighter. Worryingly, in Lakewood, Colorado, two boys aged only 10 and 11 were convicted of arson after they used Axe to start a fire which ultimately spread to a nearby apartment block.
5) Car Surfing. Really deprived of adrenaline? Try this little number. Possibly inspired by a scene in the 1980s film, Teen Wolf, the idea is to stay on top of a car while a friend drives at rapid speeds, enabling you to ‘surf’ (and literally lose your head at the traffic lights). Car surfing alone has been responsible for 99 deaths in the US between 1990 and 2008. Knowing Ireland’s infamous potholes, the inevitable risk of brain contusions, fractured skulls and internal bleeding would only be considerably higher on our roads.
So, by all means let college trends enwrap you, but when someone at a party insists you “try this thing they did on their J1 last summer”, beware of its often questionable implications.
• Hannah Popham is a Sociology student at TCD