The history of the Internet is full of awesome archiving-worthy moments, but no environment since the dawn of man has ever inspired, and rooted for, stupidity and recklessness as much as the Internet does. First, you have got millions of teenagers. Second, you’ve got a supervision-free space. Combining the two together, it’s inevitable that the young ones will go absolutely dangerously crazy. Dares are fun and risks can give you a great adrenaline rush. There is also the unrivaled pleasure of appealing to the whole online world: because you’re so brave and so edgy and such a daredevil. The YouTube Cinnamon Challenge is one example of how far one would often go in front of a camera. Cool and harmless or possibly fatal? Let us answer this question.
What Is the Cinnamon Challenge?
Most teenage trends pass unnoticed by parents because teens only publicize them among their own crowd. And it can be tricky for families and teachers to inspect the Internet every day for potential fun-sounding danger-bearing ballgames. Only when a kid is in trouble does the issue surface in the open and everyone begins to freak out.
The Cinnamon Challenge is basically a food challenge, one where you involve food in a daring stunt. To perform this challenge you’ll only need 3 items: a spoon, a timer, and cinnamon and, of course, a camera, but that’s a given. The challenge goes like this: you’re supposed to stick a spoonful of cinnamon into your mouth and swallow it in 60 seconds without the help of water and, hopefully, without any serious lung damage as well.
The Cinnamon Challenge Rules
According to the challenge’s website, the only rules are to swallow the tablespoon of cinnamon in 60 seconds with no water involved. The website, ironically, warns you against trying, “It’s going to burn, you are going to cough, and regret you tried.”
You will cough and it’s going to burn your mouth and feel dry beyond expectations. When you cough, cinnamon smoke will come out of your mouth. It’s commonly called “Dragon Breath,” because it slightly looks like fire, and because it exactly feels like fire. The website resumes to tell you not to try it yourself and to watch a few of the 40.000 cinnamon challenge videos already on YouTube. We could guess that, in a way, reverse psychology will play the biggest part in encouraging a young enthusiastic person to give the crazy and dangerous challenge a try. But we will also give them the benefit of the doubt and assume it wasn’t intentional.
Cinnamon Challenge YouTube Videos
Do the YouTube videos serve as a warning or do they encourage even more young people to give the dangerous challenge a try? Most of the videos out there are of people who failed to complete the challenge, hurrying to drink water to relieve the burning feeling, then highly advising against it. But psychologically speaking, a teenager might feel pressured to jump in and try for themselves to blend in the crowd and laugh and joke with them as they recite their tales of the cinnamon agony.
Individually, taking a risky challenge and videotaping it for all to see cannot possibly bring you much good, save for the online attention and approval. Yielding to peer pressure or fishing for Internet compliments (and what comes with the package: more followers, more likes, and more shares) pales in the comparison when, on the other side, lies a serious health concern.
But why is it so difficult and what makes the consumption of a natural spice such a big deal to deserve its own challenge anyway? The medical community strongly advises against it, because aside from the extreme discomfort and pain you’ll feel in your mouth and throat, it also has crucial consequences.
Why Is the Cinnamon Challenge Difficult?
What makes a challenge a challenge is a degree of difficulty and a degree of risk. In the following, we will tell you about the difficulty. Is it really impossible to swallow a spoonful off cinnamon with no fluids to assist the swallowing?
The reason the challenge is very difficult is because cinnamon powder will instantly dry up your mouth and airways. You’ll feel extremely uncomfortable and breathing will be difficult. Saliva won’t suffice to move the powder down and you’ll start coughing it out. The cinnamon smoke you’ll cough you might easily just end up inhaling, causing you to cough even more. At this point, swallowing is not possible.
Upon inhalation, cinnamon dust is very difficult to spit out of your lungs. According to Forbes, cinnamon is a ground tree bark; “the cellulose matrix of tree bark acts like a sustained release medicine, but in this case releasing a painful and damaging chemical. The body cannot metabolize cellulose. That’s probably okay for the stuff that’s swallowed. It’ll only burn tomorrow morning at potty time. But the stuff in the lungs is hard to expire.” So you’ll be eating powder bark, and an excessive amount at that.
Why Is the Cinnamon Challenge Dangerous?
Awareness is always the most critical issue. If you’re fully acquainted with the very possible negative results, the rewards might not be worthy of the risk for you. But most of the time, teens and tweens’ only source of information is their peers. And if their peers survived this, save for the mild discomfort, then its safety is taken for granted.
People always perform under the assumption that natural is always good. This is not necessarily true. Yes, cinnamon is frequently added to food and people absolutely love it for the exotic spicy taste it offers to the dish, but cinnamon is not supposed to be inhaled or eaten in amounts uncooked. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, cinnamon is a food additive and is not to be eaten alone.
If the cinnamon blocks the airways, you’ll probably end up gagging and gasping for air. Exhaling the cinnamon dust you accidentally inhaled through the nose can cause irritation, itching, and a burning feeling. There’s also the danger of vomiting. But these risks are mostly temporary; what you should really worry about is the long term effects. Pneumonia and a collapsed lung can very possibly result from this challenge. Trying it once might trigger an asthma attack. Now these effects can turn one’s life upside down. Imagine severely damaging your body for the instant pleasure of an online dare?
During the period between January 2012 and June 2012, the American Association of Poison Control Centers received almost 200 calls regarding this issue. 17% of them required medical intervention. This number might sound small, but consider the fact that only 51 calls were received regarding cinnamon in the whole of 2011 and you’d realize the number is scary.
Sometimes people fail at the challenge the first time and intend to give it another try. That can double the dangers because the cinnamon dust in the lung will pile up. Kids must understand that the need to conform is not worth the possibility of damage or the risk. It is also concerning if a fully aware teenager chooses to go through with the challenge despite the known effects; it implies bad company and bad decision making, and you might want to sit down with them and discuss the limit at which they should stop following a media trend.
Can the Cinnamon Challenge Lead to Death?
As far as we know, no cases of death due to the cinnamon challenge have been recorded. However, a collapsed lung can seriously compromise your lifestyle and your health. Kids who never had to use an inhaler before might completely rely on it now. So, no, death is not a direct consequence, but you can easily damage your body enough to make it possible.
The Internet can certainly be a bad influence. The freedom and the privacy allow a thousand possibilities. As a young person, one must learn to weigh the rewards and the risks in one’s head. Learn to make a comparison and see if one is worth the other. Is ruining your life and breaking your loved one’s hearts (or savings) worth the few minutes of fame? If the next online challenge requires you to jump off of a cliff, would you do it? Where do you draw the line?
Conforming and yielding to peer pressure are not the same as bravery and dare-taking. Many things out there are worth the risk; a YouTube food challenge is certainly not one.