The Internet challenge – The Hindu

The Internet challenge – The Hindu

Confined inside home, we try to break the monotony by taking up tough viral tasks on social media.

Every day is a challenge in this pandemic time. Even previously simple “no brainer” chores like buying vegetables from a supermarket has become a daunting challenge now. Now, for buying groceries in the local shop, I had to reasonably distance myself from the elbowing shoppers, organise vegetables in specific wrappers, religiously clean them in chlorinated solution and dry them in the sunlight; and for sure, this pestilence has thrown a spanner in our everyday previously mundane works. Seeking medical help, utilising the services of house maids, attending a family function, visiting the nearby temple, dining out or even the early morning walk where I had to rub shoulders with other fitness freaks — all activities which we took for granted so far, have become mounting challenges now. However, I am more troubled by a bigger “challenge”.

As I stood heads down close to the wall in a handstand posture, my wife had a concerned look, ostensibly worried that I would dirty the newly painted wall with my bare feet. I caught my breath and then transferred my weight to the right hand to lift the T-shirt placed on the floor. Everything was hunky-dory till I inserted my left hand in the arm hole of the T-shirt. My right arm gave away and I fell down like a heap of boulders. My attempted T-shirt challenge was a disappointing failure. When I saw my Facebook friends pull it off with elan, I too felt peer pressure to take up the challenge but in vain. Such challenges have become a common occurrence on social media during this lockdown days.

With increasing confinement inside our homes, we are more and more reliant on the Internet and social media. To break the monotony, such challenges are “invented” and posted on social media to keep people engaged. These challenges then spread like wildfire and everyone tries a hand at them. Winning such challenges also gives us the much-needed positivity during these tough times. Of late, the T-shirt challenge, which I failed, and the bottle cap challenge, where one has to kick open a bottle cap, are viral.

Recently, I was challenged by my friend to post seven movies that influenced me significantly, which was a cakewalk. But the key feature was that I had to tag a new person every time I post the completed task every day. So, it slowly snowballs exponentially into hundreds of people playing out the challenge. On a similar note, there are challenges to post a list of favourite books, travel photographs, black and white pictures, and influential leaders.

There are several tougher physically demanding challenges such as the 30-day 30 push-up challenge (30 continuous push-ups every day for a month), 25-day fitness challenge (one fitness activity daily for 25 days), and couch-up challenge (lift your own couch), all of which demand significant physical exertion. Some of the challenges could be dangerous and has unfortunately led to physical harm and fatality in a few instances. These include the Kiki challenge (one has to dance out of a moving car), ice bucket challenge (participant pours an ice-filled bucket of water over themselves), and choking-passing out challenge (participants choke other kids till they pass out). Not very long ago, we witnessed a spate of suicides following the blue whale challenge where a series of tasks is allotted by an anonymous administrator finally forcing the child to commit suicide.

Since the advent of the pandemic, there is a steep increase in the use of Internet-based electronic gadgets for almost everything from buying stuff, banking and office work to medical consultation, legal proceedings and education. These devices have taken up the role of an extended arm. Every member of the family right from the nursery student to the septuagenarian wields a smart device. While these devices provide an interface for us to be in touch with the external world, they have their own share of disadvantages. An Internet challenge is one of the potential hazards of being on social media, if not handled diligently. They are hard to ignore especially if someone had nominated you in a challenge. While many of these challenges are simple and fun, some of them are physically taxing and potentially harmful. Since many children are glued to these smart devices because of the slew of online classes being thrust on them, one needs to be aware of these Internet challenges.

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