The Tide Pod Challenge

eatingI’ve been away from my desk for a couple of weeks, so by the time I became aware of the Tide Pod Challenge, it was over.  No great loss: I’m not a big fan of eating soap!  Luckily, though, I’m still in time to catch all the yipping about what makes “normal” people suddenly go nuts and do stupid things — like eating soap.  According to the pundits, there any number of reasons — ranging from subliminal advertising and our sorry education system to the usual suspect: Donald Trump.  However, the biggest bogeyman, by far, is Social Media, that vague one-size-fits-all villain that does everything but plug toilets and murder people.  (Yeah, yeah, yeah!)

Let me set the record straight.  Like our canine cousins, people run in packs, and they’ve been doing it for at least 100 millennia: long before Mark Zuckerberg figured out that the Internet could be manipulated to meet Harvard girls.  Humans naturally have a group mentality.  Social media didn’t invent that; it just makes it easier.

All you have to do is look at fashion.

There is nothing more useless than the necktie, yet men have been trying to lynch themselves with it for centuries.  Actually, the necktie was born when gunpowder swept the neighbourhood in Europe.  French soldiers tied scarves around their necks so they could use the loose ends to wipe the soot out of their eyes after they fired their muskets.  Everyone loves a man in uniform, so tons of guys (who’d probably never even seen a battlefield) adopted the style to add a little swagger around the ladies.  Apparently, it worked.

I have no personal experience with high heels, but I’ve rubbed enough female feet in my time to know Mother Nature never intended women to elevate themselves this way.  Actually, high heels are nothing more than a celebrity fashion trend that went “viral” — before viral was even a word.  Originally, high heels were worn by men to grip the stirrups on horseback.  Makes sense.  However, rumour has it that Catherine de’ Medici got so tired of stepping out of her carriage into the slime that ran in the streets of 16th century Paris that, one afternoon, she borrowed a pair of her husband, Henry II’s, high-heeled boots.  The Medici girls were uber-trendy before the Kardashians ever thought about it, and high heels have been de rigueur in high society ever since.

And it goes on and on:

In the 1920s, women wrapped their breasts to simulate a flat chest (that’s gotta hurt) and, in the 40s, men wore trousers baggy enough to share with a friend.

A little closer to home, remember the ubiquitous fanny packs?  They were everywhere until we all discovered they were the international symbol for Steal My Stuff.

Crocs!  (I’m not going to say another word because I know most of us have a secret pair stashed away somewhere.)

My point is, wasting time blaming Social Media for people eating soap is as ridiculous as my wife and I cussing out the French every time we have to go to a formal dinner.  Why bother?  So instead of asking ourselves, “Why are so many people eating soap?” we should be seriously looking at why our society produces soap eaters, in the first place.

2016 — BEGONE!

2016-begoneI know it’s nearly the end of January, and we’re firmly in the grasp of 2017.  I know you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube and that bitching about the past is about as effective as a blind man at a Victoria’s Secret fashion show.  And I know I’m not the only one fed up with hearing what an Anno Horribilis 2016 was.  BUT, 2016 was an Anno Horribilis  — a great big bad anno horribilis — and, dead horse or no, I’m not done kicking it.  Here are a few things that came out of 2016 that  I want to see shot in the head and buried in the backyard.

Pumpkin Spice — Way back in the day, when it was a once-a-year Starbuck’s flavour, pumpkin spice was cool.  Then it became the new Nutella, and now it’s everywhere like the culinary equivalent of The Walking Dead.

Water bottle flip — First of all, why is everybody carrying a water bottle as if they live on a dirt ranch in Death Valley?  And secondly, who did this flip thing the first time and thought it was an accomplishment?

Finger/mouth Selfies — The Duckface selfie might not have killed it, but the war continues as grown women are taking pictures of themselves sticking their fingers in their mouths like petulant children in a massive effort to destroy sexy forever.

Snapchat filters — When you were 12? … maybe.

Pokemon GO — Actually, I would have liked to see this one hang around for a while.

Mannequin Challenge — Unlike that cold water thing from 2014, nobody benefits from a bunch of folks standing around pretending they have a stick up their ass.

Gourmet Toast — Oh, for God’s sake! It’s called leftover pizza, and it’s been around for years.

Hipster Food Presentation — Serving food in a jar, wrapped in burlap or on the hubcaps of a ’64 Ford is a good way to ruin a meal — and an appetite — at the same time.

Zucchini Noodles — Some things are just wrong.

Chokers – A 19th century fashion statement that swept the neighbourhood in the 1990s.  Now, it’s back, and whiplash has become fashionable again.

Ripped Jeans — Another throwback fashion.  I can’t wait to see what happens when these millionaire celebrities finally realize their designer jeans are being ripped by children in the sweatshops of Bangladesh.  There’s some irony there.

Old Testament Beards on Athletes — I’m surprised more defensive linemen don’t just grab a handful and pull.

And finally:

Politics — I and 7 billion other people on this planet are so totally pissed off with the infantile “I did not/you did so” brand of discourse from 2016 that we never want to hear this bullshit again.  So, everybody, just shut up and let’s get on with it!