Disclaimer: The following column is a work of parody meant to demonstrate the frequently absurd cultural phenomenon of the social media challenge.
I’ve chosen you for a social media challenge!
For the next 384 years (or the first coming of the Twitter blood moon) you must post a photo with no caption that represents something completely opaque that is also deeply specific. This can be a still from a film, your favorite yodeling album covers or your least favorite wives of Henry VIII — it doesn’t matter, just be sure to use a trending, socially conscious hashtag and an artsy filter. You must post this challenge while in a headstand with one hand typing and the other taking a panoramic selfie while you TikTok having a bucket of duck l’orange sauce dumped over your body to raise money for an undisclosed charity. We don’t know how this will raise money for charity (what are you, the IRS with all these questions?), just press post.
If you enjoy social media challenges, you’ll press like on this post. If you’re a good American, you’ll comment. And if you’re right with the Lord, you’ll share this challenge under threat of excommunication from the internet. You can’t escape this post, a social media challenge is the new blood oath, and it can only be broken on the night of the aforementioned Twitter blood moon with a virgin sacrifice to Jack Dorsey.
What if I told you that by sharing this post you could help cure death? You can’t. But what if I told you that? Would it encourage you to share it?
You’ve been tagged, now show us the 12th picture on your phone’s camera roll followed by any memes you’ve saved with a caption that misattributes a quote from a dead celebrity.
If you believe in this social media challenge, believe in the power of positive thinking or believe in life after love, you will also download this app that shows what you’d look like if you were a hops farmer in the year 1347 in the township of Surrey, England. Allow it to access your contact list, your credit history and your DNA mapping. You may outrun the Black Death in 1347 Surrey, but you can’t outrun a social media challenge.
I don’t know how many of my followers will read this, but true friends will read it to the end and true patriots will also pledge allegiance to this social media challenge and to the republic for which it stands.
Back to reality: Since the pandemic, participatory posts have flooded social media feeds, from Facebook to Instagram. The recent challenge to post black-and-white selfies of women has even gotten celebrities like Ava Duvernay, Kerry Washington and Jennifer Lopez to participate in the name of #womensupportingwomen. As someone who does believe in the importance of supporting women, it is unclear how posting to social media makes any true impact. But I guess it can’t hurt. (The origins of the challenge and its specific purpose were also unclear. After critiques that the posts were nothing more than narcissism disguised as hashtag activism, some claimed that the challenge was meant to raise awareness for women’s issues in Turkey. The challenge was more likely started by journalist Ana Paula Padrão in Brazil.)
While some may find participation in these challenges a comfort during social isolation or even personally meaningful, the various rules and guidelines for them as well as the cajoling language used to encourage participation are rife for satire.
Repost at your own risk.