Well, Okay… Now I’ve heard everything (maybe). I don’t know if you’ve seen this, but I just saw a quick news report about the thing they’re calling the “laundry pod challenge,” or more specifically, the “Tide Pod Challenge.” Somewhere along the way, someone decided it would be a good idea to challenge other people to eat a laundry pod.
The producers of such pods were reported to have expressed concerns over using their products in such a manner. I would hope so. Still, it boggles the imagination that people are actually taking up such a challenge. I suppose it’s simply because a dare is a dare.
By all reports, most of the people who are actually taking up the so-called challenge are teenagers. It puts me in mind of other challenges that have been issued in the past. In the Roaring Twenties, young folks were eating live goldfish—swallowing them whole.
“It became a thing.”
When I was a kid, things had escalated to the point where people were biting the heads off of live chicks (the birds, not the girls). This got started by a rumor that Alice Cooper had done so on stage. He actually hadn’t done it, but everyone believed he did. Hence, it became a thing.
The whole Tide Pod phenomenon puts me in mind of some of the silliest warnings I’ve seen on retail products. For example: containers of Drano warn not to ingest the crystals, chain saws warn not to grab the wrong end, and scooters warn that the product moves when used. There’s even a set of precision screw drivers that warn not to insert one into your—dare I say it—penis. I can only guess that these warnings arose because someone tried using these products in less than safe ways.
There might be a positive side to this laundry pod challenge, however. There was something akin to it that was popular when I was a kid. It wasn’t a challenge, though. It was a punishment. It wasn’t uncommon in those days for our mothers to wash out our mouths with soap if we said a bad word. As I recall, my Mom did that to me once. She never had to do it again (and I will never take the Tide Pod Challenge as a result).
From the things I’ve heard many teenagers utter these days, a Tide Pod in the mouth might be an appropriate action. Of course, it doesn’t stop with teenagers. Adults seem to be even worse. It’s an oral epidemic.
The Apostle Paul was pretty clear about not having a potty mouth. His warning label (Ephesians 4:29) to us was to keep it clean. He urged his readers to say things that would benefit their hearers instead of grossing them out. Many of us totally disregard his warning. For some, it’s like a gateway drug to larger evils. Maybe we should heed the cell phone label that actually warns against foul language “because a partner’s feeling is going to be bad.”
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]