It seems like everyone is talking about teenagers these days, especially the eloquent and thoughtful teens of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who are currently driving the inspiring conversation around gun safety reform right now. But not all teenagers are inclined to change the world, which becomes extremely clear if you believe a handful of news reports about teenagers snorting condoms on social media as some sort of challenge. Aside from being totally ridiculous, snorting a latex condom through your nose and out through your mouth can’t be good for you. So what happens when you snort a condom anyway?
First of all, this really isn’t as big of a craze as some reports might have you believe. According to various reports, the majority of the videos on YouTube were posted years ago — like in 2007 and 2013. People love to lose their minds about what teenagers are doing, since it gives old people something to clutch their pearls about and reminisce about the good ol’ days. Plus, passing around a story about kids snorting condoms has to have some of the abstinence-only people pacing around and leaving frenzied comments on social media. How dare we corrupt the youth by providing them with such free access to condoms that they have taken to snorting them through their noses, right?
This whole craze is actually really blown out of proportion. Snopes, the online fact checking site, says of the condom snorting craze: “Despite an uptick in media hand-wringing over the alleged “craze” in 2018, few people appeared to have attempted it since the challenge first went viral in 2013,” the site concluded. So, there’s that.
But once you see some of the videos, you really can’t forget you saw it, which might be why it’s catching on so quickly.
But for the record: Don’t snort a condom.
If you do, it could end up in your lung and block your airway. There’s a case of a 27-year-old woman who was giving a man a blowjob with a condom on and she accidentally swallowed it. It went to her lung, blocked an airway, gave her pneumonia, and eventually collapsed one of her lungs. So, intentionally shooting one up your nostril is not recommended, like, at all.
Bruce Y. Lee, an associate professor of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, wrote in a recent column for Forbes, “anything else that goes up your nose can damage the sensitive inner lining of your nose, cause an allergic reaction, or result in an infection.”
So, there’s that. But let’s get back to what’s really interesting about this “trend piece.” Overblown teen crazes pop up all the time. Last year, kids were actually eating Tide Pods and getting hurt. But there was also the “craze” of kids snorting cinnamon, which is equally bad for you. There was also that thing back in 2006 when kids were duct taping their friends to a chair and waiting to see if they could get out. Basically, kids do a lot of weird shit, because they’re kids and that’s what they do.
What’s strange about this “trend” is that it’s so easily disproven to be not really a thing. Like, there are no new videos of kids snorting condoms since 2007 and 2013. (Although, Vice has traced the condom snorting back to the 1990s.) Maybe this is spiking because teens are generally at the center of the media cycle right now. On social media, prominent conservatives and Republicans have been attacking the Parkland, Florida school shooting survivors for organizing marches for gun safety. Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham had advertisers pull their money from her show after she attacked a teenager on Twitter. It totally makes sense that people would be digging for any reason to discredit teens in general and remind the world not to listen to them.
It’s just a theory, of course, but it’s playing out that way on Twitter.
Given that all the videos of the “condom challenge” are pretty dated and the only people talking about it on social media appear to be definitely-not-teens, we say you shouldn’t worry about it all that much. Especially since there don’t seem to be a lot of reports that kids are being taken to the emergency room for choking on one. The kids are probably just fine. Instead of flipping out that kids are snorting condoms, maybe we should focus on what they’re telling us about growing up in a world rife with school shootings. And also school them on what they should really be doing with the condoms they might be tempted to shove up their nose.