March 2018

Line in the Sand:Youth today... But are they really eating Tide Pods?

Author: Barry Kaufman & Courtney Hampson | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

Opinion 1: Barry Kaufman

As of this writing, the latest teen trend to have the older generations doing spit takes with their Metamucil is Tide Pods—as in, those little packets of soap that kind of look like candy but are mostly used for the whitening of whites and the brightening of brights. Teens, in their wisdom, are allegedly eating them. Again, as of this writing.

I have to add the caveat “as of this writing,” because members of Generation Tide Pods™ are not known for their attention spans. By the time you read this, they could be on to the next stupid thing—snorting ground up pennies or giving each other Quaker State facials. I don’t know.

But as you may well know, this is a huge trend and not a few isolated cases. News stories are all over about teens throwing back Tide Pods like they were M&Ms, along with anecdotal evidence that stores are locking up their Tide Pods behind the counter lest they fall into the tattooed hands of these raving soapheads.

Except here’s the thing. I’m not entirely sure this is actually a thing. I was, myself, a teen person at one point several presidents ago, and the only thing more fun for teens than actually eating Tide Pods is making people think they’re eating Tide Pods. Especially teens growing up in this (for lack of a better word) culture. We all live in a world where “facts” essentially boil down to “whichever thing I read online that I decide is true,” and kids these days love playing in that sandbox.

For example, I was recently introduced to the concept of the shower orange through Reddit, which is where young people go to share hilarious stories about how all they do is waste time online. According to the “showerorange” subreddit, if you eat an orange in the shower, there’s some quasi-mystical chemical reaction between the citrus juice and the steam that creates a near rapturous experience akin to diving face first into a basketful of puppies and angel smiles.

I can’t overstress how much this isn’t presented as “eating an orange in the shower is surprisingly refreshing” so much as “I hereby forsake any other Gods than the almighty citrus shower.” These are maniacal shower orange evangelists we’re taking about. But the rest of the people in this subreddit are other young people who were just trying to figure out if this is a joke.

For the record, I tried it, and it’s pretty much like eating an orange anywhere else. The point is, most of the time when they’re introduced to something new, Generation Tide Pods™ doesn’t even know if it’s really a thing or just some gag everyone’s pulling. They’ve taken the concept of sarcasm and stretched it well past its natural boundaries, to the point where nearly everything has to be given a sniff test to see if it’s really a trend or something ironic.

With Tide Pods, however, they’re all in on it. There’s another “Tide Pods” subreddit devoted to mocking the faux-steria over young people eating Tide Pods. They’re photoshopping Tide Pods into the infamous Trump “taco bowl” Tweet; sharing photos of liquid detergent with the caption “They made a smoothie!”; and even making homemade Gummi Tide Pods. One unfortunate redditor used the fad as an opportunity to cause himself life-long regret, showing off his brand new “forbidden fruit” Tide Pod tattoo.

What I’m driving at is this. The joke isn’t “Ha, ha, ha; eating Tide Pods is awesome.” The joke is “Ha, ha, ha, these idiots have such a low opinion of us they think we’d eat Tide Pods.”

To be fair, this didn’t start in a vacuum. There were a few idiots who actually ate Tide Pods or attempted to eat Tide Pods. The videos I’ve seen so far haven’t featured anyone getting past the point where actual laundry detergent explodes into their mouth. And they are far outnumbered by videos of people pretending to eat Tide Pods, before explaining that actually eating Tide Pods is stupid.

Look, this is nothing new. In preparation for this article, I asked some of my fellow members of Generation Wow We All Got Fat™ about stupid things we did in the ’90s. I can’t remember any of them myself, you see, because of the stupid things I did in the ’90s.

The examples were numerous. We played the pass out game. We tried to drink entire gallons of milk in one sitting. We sucked nitrous out of whipped cream canisters. We made Chumbawumba stars. We drank Zima. On purpose. And this was all before YouTube, when we could have performed these stupid actions for a global audience of fellow ’90s kids and the Baby Boomers who would no doubt cluck their tongues at our stupidity, despite their own culpability in the disco craze.

None of us is perfect, especially when judged alongside everyone else in our generation. Before you go laying into Generation Tide Pods™ for their stupidity, you need to do two things. First, make sure they’re actually eating Tide Pods and not just making you the butt of an ambitious joke. Second, take a good look in the mirror and ask yourself if you didn’t pull similar pranks at their age.

Then grab an orange, eat it in the shower, and tell me what you think. Or better yet, bring a Tide Pod in there and enjoy being a trendsetter.


Opinion 2: Courtney Hampson

Here is a list of all the things I did yesterday:
Woke up.
Kissed a firefighter.
Walked the dog.
Ran seven miles.
Drank coffee.
Ate two eggs.
Took a shower.
Watched a sappy Nicholas Sparks book-to-movie adaptation.
Found a gluten-free, sugar-free brownie recipe.
Went to Publix.
Made a batch of real brownies, with gluten and sugar.
Watched Pink sing the National Anthem.
Fell asleep during the second quarter of the Super Bowl.

Here is a list of what I didn’t do yesterday:
Eat a Tide detergent pod.

Yes, people (primarily teenagers) are eating detergent pods. Apparently, the Internet’s latest “forbidden fruit” is just too tempting to pass up.

I’m going to have to come in on the side of old, jaded and intelligent here and say, um, soap is not for eating. However, the number of people who ate a detergent pack in January of this year is 142 percent more than the number of people who ate detergent in all of 2017. If the rate at which people are eating detergent continues this trajectory, by the end of the year, the number will have risen more than 1500 percent. That’s a lot of stupid people, right here in the good ol’ U S of A.

I have a question. Whose job is it to count how many people eat soap? And does it only include intentional ingestion of soap, or does it include accidental and parent-induced instances as well?

Oh, I’ve had a bar of Ivory soap shoved between my teeth once or twice in my day. This (and the wooden spoon) was my mom’s go-to form of punishment. I was a tad mouthy in my youth, and the whole “I’m going to wash your mouth out with soap” threat didn’t always do the trick. The worst part was the soap that would be stuck in your teeth. There was no amount of spitting that could rid your mouth of that taste—hence, a form of (legal) punishment.

I can’t understand why someone would want to eat soap. On purpose. Unless you like diarrhea, vomiting and difficulty breathing. But, if you like those things, just run a marathon; at least you get a medal at the end.

I understand trends and fads, and there were certainly some interesting ones when I was a teen in the mid- to late-1980s. We had big hair, held in place with a lot of Aqua Net. There were Capezio shoes and breakdancing outbreaks. Care Bears and Cabbage Patch Kids. Horror Movies. Lace gloves, jelly bracelets, neon and other Madonna-emulating fashion choices. Denim jackets and Converse high tops. We played with Rubik’s Cube and watched Saved by the Bell.

Oddly, we never ate soap. Or glue. Or glitter. Or snorted whip cream. All this to say, a perfectly normal and enjoyable childhood and/or evolution to teendom can be achieved without eating household cleaners.

If, however, you feel like soap and/or detergents are your jam, here are some alternate uses:
- Wash your body.
- Wash your dog.
- Wash the dishes.
- Wash the windows.
- Wash your clothes.
- Wash your car.
- Wash your neighbor’s car.

That’s a lot of potential activity, so when you’re done with all of that, you’ll be ravenous. Here is a list of some things you can eat:
- Fruit
- Vegetables
- Cereal
- Turkey sandwiches
- Pickles
- A hamburger
- Fries
- Ice cream
- A rack of ribs
- Hummus.
Please, world, stop filling my newsfeed with stuff like this. I am not amused.

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