It’s about time that we study the distinction between what’s a viral trend and what’s only one particular person posting a meme that goes viral.
For the sake of humanity, let’s depend our fortunate stars: NyQuil chicken isn’t a actual menace to public well being. However this week, the FDA issued a warning about what the company perceived as a TikTok problem encouraging customers to prepare dinner uncooked chicken in a pool of NyQuil, a sleep-inducing chilly medication.
“Boiling a medication can make it much more concentrated and change its properties in other ways. Even if you don’t eat the chicken, inhaling the medication’s vapors while cooking could cause high levels of the drugs to enter your body,” the FDA wrote. “Put simply: Someone could take a dangerously high amount of the cough and cold medicine without even realizing it.”
However should you search phrases like “sleepy chicken recipe” on TikTok, virtually each video is a duet or a stitch-style expression of shock. Customers will share a clip of the identical video of 1 particular person cooking chicken in NyQuil, then add a clip of themselves reacting to how completely absurd it’s.
This isn’t a TikTok problem a lot as a recycled, cursed meme that dates again to 4chan in 2017 and was virtually undoubtedly posted by a troll. Since then, the thought of “sleepy chicken” has periodically resurfaced on websites like YouTube, and even earlier this yr, medical doctors warned teenagers in opposition to making their very own NyQuil-infused meals.
Now, such viral YouTube movies have been deleted, and should you attempt looking for sure phrases associated to NyQuil chicken, TikTok will redirect you to a assets web page. But it surely’s too straightforward to get round these filters — simply attempt looking out NyQuil.
To be clear: Cooking meals in NyQuil is a very dangerous thought. However we don’t have any precise proof to help that children are doing this.
This wouldn’t be the primary time that a few grotesque TikToks have been blown out of proportion. Final fall, a “slap a teacher” trend appeared to go viral, which supposedly inspired college students to … slap their lecturers. That sounds terrible, however many have been doubtful of this trend actually current. Months later, The Washington Put up discovered that Fb, with its growing issues about TikTok’s rising dominance, paid the Republican consulting agency Focused Victory to discredit TikTok. As a part of the initiative, Focused Victory apparently made up the “slap a teacher” trend to sow anxiousness round TikTok’s affect on teenagers.
That doesn’t imply that TikTok tendencies — actual or faux — don’t have penalties. One 10-year-old died whereas holding her breath for a “blackout challenge.”
Social platforms ought to take precautions to nip dangerous viral tendencies within the bud earlier than they will unfold too far, however this isn’t a problem endemic to TikTok. Relatively, it’s a drawback of Media literacy. We’re sensible sufficient (I hope) to know that consuming NyQuil chicken is a dangerous thought — and well being warnings apart, it might most likely style horrible! However we additionally must know how one can inform whether or not widespread panic about a viral trend is actually reliable.
In observe, the FDA’s warning gained’t cease individuals from consuming NyQuil chicken. As a substitute, the federal government company simply remodeled a fringe 4chan meme into a mainstream well being concern.