Why people are taking terrifying falls on social media

Every now and then, the internet opens a portal on a weird new trend. Enter the Milk Crate Challenge. Online you can find a burgeoning collection of videos on TikTok, Instagram, Twitter and the like of people stacking milk crates, trying to climb them like a staircase, and falling, because believe it or not, piles of milk crates don’t make for sound structures. 

The Milk Crate Challenge is trending. Getty Images

© Provided by CNET
The Milk Crate Challenge is trending. Getty Images

The Milk Crate Challenge is trending.

© Getty

The Milk Crate Challenge is trending.

On TikTok, videos with the hashtag #milkcratechallenge have racked up more than 10 million views, and #cratechallenge has more than 82 million views. Here’s what’s going on with the Milk Crate Challenge.


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What is the milk crate trend?

The Milk Crate Challenge involves stacking milk crates in a pyramid of sorts so they form steps. People try to climb up one side and down the other as the stacks get increasingly precarious. When they make a misstep or the physics of the situation just don’t hold out, they fall to the ground, usually on top of the toppled crates. 

Is anyone getting hurt?

So far it’s hard to tell if anyone has gotten seriously injured. Doctors told Today falls could result in injuries like “broken wrists, shoulder dislocations, ACL and meniscus tears, as well as life-threatening conditions like spinal cord injuries.” 

The videos of the falls can be pretty wince-inducing, watching people land on their backs, sides and stomachs, directly on the hard plastic corners of the crates. In one, a guy stands at the very top of the pyramid and wobbles dramatically for several seconds before taking another step and just crashing to the ground. 

Baltimore’s Health Department tweeted a reminder that if you get hurt doing this trend, there might not be a hospital bed for you given the severity of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Then there’s this skilled woman, who managed to get up and down a stack while wearing heels. 

How did the challenge start and what are people saying about it?

It’s unclear how exactly the trend got started, though it seems to have picked up steam over the weekend. On Monday night, it even made Jimmy Kimmel Live when guest host Stephen A. Smith showed some clips and talked about how dumb he thinks the trend is. 

“We’re all so worried about COVID, but TikTok is what’s going to kill us,” he told the audience. 

Mark Ruffalo tweeted about the Milk Crate Challenge, saying Hulk wouldn’t participate because of his hatred of stairs. 

Conan O’Brien also joked on Twitter about the trend needing approval from the Food and Drug Administration, which prompted the FDA to tweet back at him, discouraging the activity. 

How does TikTok feel about this?

If you directly search “milk crate challenge” on TikTok, the platform serves up a message saying, “This phrase may be associated with behavior or content that violates our guidelines.” 

A spokesperson for the platform said via email: “TikTok prohibits content that promotes or glorifies dangerous acts, and we remove videos and redirect searches to our Community Guidelines to discourage such content. We encourage everyone to exercise caution in their behavior whether online or off.” 

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