Health experts around the world have warned that people should not attempt the latest viral internet challenge -- walking over a pyramid of precariously balanced milk crates.
TikTok and other social media sites have been flooded in recent days by videos of people in the United States and other countries trying -- and mostly failing -- to climb the crates.
Most videos end with what looks like a painful fall onto the collapsing crates, or the ground, as onlookers film on their phones in what some dubbed an event in the "Hood Olympics," an AFP report explains.
"You're at risk for... hitting your head and getting a head bleed," Dr. Chad Cannon, an emergency room doctor at the University of Kansas Health System, explains in the report. If "you land on the milk crate, you will break your back and be paralyzed."
Baltimore City Health pointed out that hospitals are already under strain from the pandemic. "With Covid-19 hospitalizations rising around the country, please check with your local hospital to see if they have a bed available for you, before attempting the #milkcratechallenge," the official account tweeted.
While the hashtag was readily searchable on Twitter and Instagram on Wednesday, searches on TikTok returned no results. While the popular short video app has been banned in India since June 2020, the number of users on other social media sites adds up to millions.
"This phrase may be associated with behavior or content that violates our guidelines. Promoting a safe and positive experience is TikTok's top priority," the search result page said.
The videos -- and photographs of some appalling injuries -- were reminiscent of an earlier internet sensation that had doctors tearing their hair out. The 2018 Tide Pod Challenge saw young people biting into a liquid laundry detergent packets, the AFP report adds.
Similarly in 2020, the skull-breaker challenge had gone viral on the internet. In this dangerous act, which involves three people standing side by side, the two people on the side count till three and jump. When they land, the middle person jumps. When the person in the middle is in the air, the other two kick his/her feet, ensuring a hard landing that can lead to head injuries. Earlier, starting around 2016, the ‘blue whale’ challenge had begun plaguing the internet, targeting mostly young users to cause themselves self-harm over the course of 50 days through a variety of tasks.
Some social media users pointed out the likelihood that not all of those appearing in these videos in the United States would get free medical treatment. "People doing this like they have the best health insurance" tweeted @ogmike.
Others contrasted the willingness of people to attempt something so patently dangerous with the attitude to getting a coronavirus jab that has proven safe and effective. "You'll do the milk crate challenge but won't get the vaccine. Got it," quipped 'Star Trek' actor George Takei.