Social media competitions are known for their quirkiness, from the Planking Challenge, where contestants lie face down in a busy or offbeat place, to the Mannequin Challenge, where a group of people pose like statues while a camera pans between them. But the latest social media viral problem isn’t just weird — it’s dangerous, doctors say.
The Milk Crate Challenge originated on TikTok and is believed to originate from a June 2011 video titled “Guy falls off 6 milk crates,” according to the Washington Post. In this challenge, participants “take a set of milk crates folded precariously in a pyramid shape, attempt to climb to the top and then descend again without tipping over,” according to The Guardian.
Videos of people trying to compete in the Milk Crate Challenge (often with what The Washington Post called “disastrous results”) have been viewed and shared by millions of people on various social media platforms. “This is the biggest problem that is happening in every neighborhood right now,” a New Yorker told the same newspaper. “You will go right now to any park or public place and you will see boxes there.”
But as more and more people try to solve this problem, it’s no surprise that trips to the emergency room have become more frequent. Medical facilities in the US are reporting a rise in the number of people with serious injuries related to the problem, including two patients in Atlanta who had broken bones and one patient in New Jersey who suffered multiple rib fractures after falling from boxes , according to People magazine.
Doctors and health officials are now urging people to stop taking part in such challenges, where the most dangerous attempts are rewarded with the most likes, views and shares. “Everyone must do their part to support first responders and healthcare providers,” a New York-based orthopedic surgeon told the Washington Post. “This includes refusing to participate in trials [which put] additional load on the system.
And on Monday, the Baltimore City Department of Health tweeted: “As hospitalizations due to Covid-19 are on the rise across the country, please check with your local hospital to see if they have a bed available for you before attempting to attend. #milkcratechallenge.
The Milk Crate Challenge follows in the footsteps of similar risk-taking challenges, including the Blackout Challenge, “where young people are challenged to hold their breath until they pass out” and the Benadryl Challenge, “where young people intentionally consume large amounts of an antihistamine to induce hallucinations.” writes The Guardian.
In a statement released by People on Wednesday, a TikTok spokesperson said the app “prohibits content that promotes or glorifies dangerous acts” and that such videos are being removed and search redirected to the platform’s community guidelines. “We urge everyone to exercise caution in their behavior both online and offline,” the statement said.