Stupid Is As Stupid Does

As Instagram has evolved from a place to post adorable kitten pictures to a place to proudly display stupid decisions, incidents like this are becoming so common place that even the most avid Instagram followers yawn and keep scrolling.  Well in advance of shark week, a beautiful Instagram model decided to swim with nurse sharks for an impromptu photo-op, and was – surprise, surprise! – summarily bitten and dragged under the water. Apparently, she saw a school (herd?) of sharks milling about and thought, “this is the perfect opportunity for an action shot.”  Now so much is wrong here, from her “Everybody else is doing it” attitude that led her to her predicament to the article’s emphasis that she is due to start nursing school and had been raised around the water.  The former is, as my mother always taught me, no reason to do anything while the latter is completely inconsequential; intelligence is completely useless if it is ignored.  Besides, after being attacked by a nurse shark, maybe she needs to rethink her future choices.

I wonder if the shark posted the pics to his own Instagram account.  “I was so thrilled to meet her, but when I tried to shake her hand, she freaked out.”

Katarina is proof that all the beauty in the world can’t protect you from regrettable decisions.  Or nurse sharks.

From liars to cheaters and all manner of stupidity in between, Instagram takes all that is dumb in the world and displays it for everyone.  Why do people continue to do these things?

I will agree, it never crossed my mind to tell my own daughter not to swim with sharks.  I also never told her she shouldn’t run in front of a speeding train or drive with a blindfold on.  I think there comes a point when some things are as obvious as the sun in the sky on a bright summer day.  There are already incredibly stupid warning signs everywhere, indicating that people have actually done the things listed.

My personal favorite is the one on roller coasters cautioning people not to stand up on the ride.  Is this a common problem in amusement parks?  I saw a fan belt for a car with the cautionary warning to make sure the car isn’t running when the belt is being installed.  I mean, seriously? “No diving,” urges a sign at a two foot deep inflatable kiddie pool.  Have we become so absent-minded that we need to be told to turn off the electricity in the house before installing a light socket? If we’re not there yet, we’re certainly on our way.

Here is a story – with video – of a family who got out of their cars at a Safari park.  Now this went down in several layers of stupidity.  First, the husband opens his car door to get a picture of the cheetahs.  The wife decides this is a great time to put something in the trunk of the car.  A little farther down, they decided that some resting cheetahs would be an amazing photo-op (they’re not wrong, but still …), so they all get out of the car for a family romp amongst the wild cats.  The cheetahs were not amused, frankly, and start to charge the family.  I think the thing that gets me more than anything else is that the article states that the woman “Shooed” the cheetahs while walking back to the car.  Recap:  Your family is being chased by cheetahs.  You scoop up your younger child and casually stroll back to the car.  You wave the cheetahs away with your hand, scolding them with “shoo!”  Heck, “shoo” doesn’t work on the feline demons we invite into our homes to live, why on earth would it work for cheetahs?  Did she think they would stop, reconsider their actions, admit they acted hastily, and offer the family tea and a biscuit?

Now, I’ve been told that walking slowly and not running was the exact right way to deal with that situation as it makes you seem less like “prey.” The only thing she did wrong was turn her back on them … or so say the zoological experts in my circle. I’m not going to say they’re wrong, but I will interject that, in my opinion, had the cheetahs not been so utterly shocked and taken aback at the audacity of this family, the cats might’ve recovered a bit more quickly and the situation would’ve ended differently.

Personally, I don’t think I could forgive the men in my life if they simply took off like bats out of hell and left me to fend with the cheetahs while holding my (and one of theirs?) offspring. But that’s a topic for another day.

For whatever reasons dangerous selfies and stupid photo ops have gained popularity, people need to stop and think before they act.  My friend went on a beautiful road trip along Skyline Drive in the West Virginia mountains, and saw many bears walking along the side of the road or perched along the stone walls lining the drive.  The one encounter that stuck with her was the car full of people in front of her who rolled their windows down about three feet from an admittedly surprised black bear and her two cubs.  The people then half-stood out of their car windows, phones in hand, to get a selfie with the mama bear.  The bear was, my friend believes, too shocked by their stupidity to do anything at all for the entire five minutes they “posed” with her.  My friend isn’t a rocket scientist, but even she knows you don’t mess with mama bear and her cubs.  She had her own phone in hand to video the mauling she fully expected, and maybe to consider calling 911 as Darwinism played itself out in front of her. Sadly though, as has happened too often in the past, it would have been the bears who paid the ultimate price had they reacted to the idiotic tourists, like, you know, bears.

Evolution works to thin out the numbers.  Instagram is just there to record it when it happens.

I sincerely wish Katarina a speedy recovery, but dear Katarina:  We all hope that if you are ever offered a sight-seeing trip in Africa that you politely decline.  Lions don’t like cameras. And they might not be as forgiving as the nurse sharks you encountered.

Challenging the Challenges

I have seen news coverage of the “latest” teen challenge craze, snorting condoms, and I can hold my peace no longer.   Here is a doctor’s warning about the risks associated with snorting condoms.  Again, I am shaking my head that we would even need to warn anyone that this is a stupid idea, on top of all the other warnings issued regarding gulping spoonfuls of cinnamon, eating Tide Pods, wrapping yourself in duct tape, car surfing, and choking yourself until you pass out.

It would seem that condom snorting is a resurrection of a fad first making the rounds in 2013.  It has made a reappearance along with bell bottom jeans, cold shoulder sweaters, jelly shoes, and many other things that should just stay in the past.  In my opinion, kids snorting condoms should wear them to guarantee they don’t breed, and the Tide Pod challenge should include a teenager doing his own laundry and putting it away.

But are teens alone in stupid challenges?  I think not.  Adults are just as guilty, men especially (come on guys, you know it’s true), of doing ridiculous things in rituals called “Hold My Beer” challenges.  These range from jumping off a roof using umbrellas as parachutes to roller-skating on frozen lakes.  Things I have personally witnessed grown men doing include:

  • The firecracker challenge: I am not kidding, I have seen grown men challenge each other to light firecrackers in the waistband of their pants … “to see what happens.”  I mean, honestly. What do they think is going to happen?? I can attest it’s about what you’d expect to have happen.
  • Chicken: I have witnessed versions of this classic played out in trucks, on four wheelers, and on tractors. It never ends well for the drivers or the vehicles of choice. And once, it ended really badly – in the form of a mud bath (it was in a field, so we were all hoping it was mud at any rate) – for a particularly well-dressed bystander who had not planned on said mud bath that evening.
  • Impossible Obstacle Challenge: Let’s pile some debris and boards together and jump them with bicycles, four-wheelers, motorcycles, or heck, even roller-skates and skate boards. One guy thought he would impersonate Superman — you know, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. What could go wrong? Broken bones. That’s what can go wrong. But hey, at least he held onto his beer.
  • The hot pepper challenge: My ex-husband and his friends used to see who could eat the hottest peppers whole. This was fun enough on its own, until wasabi became a thing and the challenge expanded to a whole new level. I think some of those guys still have clear sinuses even today. Of course, the subsequent ulcers are a constant reminder of the “good old days.”

With kids, this sort of behavior is really not too far out of the realm of somewhat kinda sorta normal … I mean, their brains and their impulse control are still developing. However, you’d think the adults would “know better.”  But they don’t. I do think that adults doing stupid things and teens doing stupid things comes down to a few similarities.  Boredom is probably a running theme for all of these challenges.  The need for recognition plays some part, as well; the people performing these challenges feel the need to be acknowledged for doing something, hell, ANYTHING, even if it is dumb.  I think another common trait among people who perform these stunts, adults and teens alike, is a pervasive feeling of invincibility. I’ve talked about this before. These people know that they are doing something stupid and dangerous, and they have read that people have been seriously hurt performing these stunts, but hey; it will never happen to me!

I think that every now and then, things are put into place to promote evolution; this is Darwinism at its finest.  Only the smartest and the strongest will be able to resist snorting a condom, therefore, only the smartest and strongest survive.  If they somehow survive the teenage round of stupidity, they will be tested again as adults in the “Hold My Beer” challenges.  After this, they are granted the wisdom needed to reach old age, and to impart that great wisdom to the next generation. Who, in turn, will ignore the wise elderly citizen, and chomp on a Tide Pod anyway.  This is definitely the new “circle of life.”

Luckily, there is a growing number of young people who not only resist these asinine challenges but show more courage and intelligence than many adults … these are the leaders of the future. Hell, they’re the leaders we need now, but sadly, we’ll have to wait a bit longer for them to come into their own. So, there is hope yet.

As for me, just check my Instagram for the latest challenges I will be performing.  There is the couch-a-thon which involves sitting on my couch for an entire episode of a QVC show while the remote is on the counter in the kitchen, totally out of my reach; then there is the gluttony challenge where I will eat an entire pizza by myself.  It’s dangerous, but I like to shake it up a little and live on the edge.  Then there’s the “rope the remote with the phone charger” challenge. It’s not as easy as it sounds – I almost fell off the couch performing this one, so there’s an added risk to be taken into consideration. Of course, my all-time favorite: eating a whole container of Oreos without milk (bonus points if it’s because you forgot milk at the store when you in fact purchased the Oreos).  Required Disclaimer: Don’t try these at home, people, I am a trained professional.