Millennials, and the kids too young to fit the Millennial age range, are some of the most fascinating people to me. The youth of the world today are responsible for hilarious cultural movements like memes, fidget spinners, and Vine. They are also responsible for some of the most idiotic things that have ever graced this planet (like memes, fidget spinners, and Vine).
One aspect of Millennial culture that I find particularly odd is the rebranding of the word "challenge". If you have read any of my articles before, you probably know that I have a cult-like affinity for proper word usage. Since I'm predisposed to scrutinize the way people use words, I would like to examine why younger people have adopted the word "challenge" to extend beyond its' means.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, I'll explain. There have been multiple movements among teenagers and twenty-somethings that have been labeled as "challenges". Pouring buckets of ice cold water on your head in the name of Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS) awareness is a "challenge". Eating a Tide pod is a "challenge". Eating a spoonful of cinnamon is a "challenge". Dancing to the song "New Freezer" by Rich the Kid, and bobbing your head every time the beat hits after a verse is a "challenge".
Do you see a theme here? The theme is that none of these actions are actual challenges.
I'm not trying to be nitpicky. I think that the ALS stunt was a great and wholesome way to bring awareness to a debilitating disease. "New Freezer" is catchy as hell (and honestly, bobbing your head so hard that your neck almost disconnects from your spine is the only appropriate way to dance to that song). I'm not trying to dissuade young people from challenging themselves, but I would just like it to be an actual challenge.
First off, eating Tide pods is one of the stupidest things kids have done since playing "Chubby Bunny" and huffing gasoline were en vogue. Eating a Tide pod isn't a challenge, it's just a stupid and harmful thing to do. I can not stress enough that no one in the world should ingest a soap pod that is intended for washing clothes or dishes.
The actual definition of taking a "challenge" is to engage in a contest requiring skill, strength, or some other comparable trait. Challenging yourself is a great thing. Reading an impossible book like "Finnegans Wake" or "War & Peace" is a challenge. Putting extra weight on your bar at the gym is a good way to challenge yourself. Hell, even going on a TV game show and answering hard trivia questions is a challenge.
My main point is, there are a lot of things that are challenges that you do everyday, but filming yourself doing something stupid or something requiring no skill at all is not a challenge. The only reason I even bring this up is because I think words are powerful, and children underselling themselves by labeling stupid stuff as a "challenge" is worrisome. If eating piles of cinnamon off spoons, and chewing laundry detergent pods are thought of as "challenges" to kids, what will they do when an actual challenge presents itself in their life?
Eating something harmful or bobbing your head to a song isn't hard to do, you just have to be stupid (or in the mood for some bumpin' trap music). What will happen when children and Millennials have something presented to them that is challenging? Even worse; what if these stupid trends actually redefine what a challenge is, so kids from the generation below the ones now move to further, and even more idiotic, displays of recklessness, to show that they can perform a "challenge"?