Not too long ago, people searched the internet for videos of YouTubers doing the “Cinnamon Challenge,” which consisted of swallowing a spoonful of cinnamon. The videos showed people struggling to keep cinnamon in their mouths, as the powder spice would get stuck in the walls of their throats and cause them to cough or suffocate until they drank water. From the start, it was clear that the challenge had a dangerous side to it. Yet, the Cinnamon Challenge became so popular that every other week, YouTube would see hundreds of people uploading a video of themselves completing the famous challenge.
The Cinnamon Challenge is not the only “amusing but dangerous” challenge that has surfaced in YouTube. Over the years, viewers have enjoyed “The Ice Bucket Challenge,” “The Fire Challenge,” “Salt and Ice Challenge” and “The Milk Challenge,” in between many others. What do all of these feats have in common? They all put the life of the person doing it in danger by threatening their health.
The newest challenge trending on YouTube, the “Human Mail Challenge,” is just as dangerous as the previously mentioned ones, mainly because, as the name suggests, it’s all about mailing someone inside of a cardboard box.
Many YouTubers talk about developing interest in the Human Mail Challenge after watching the video posted by the channel “Kill’em FTW,” where a YouTuber from the U.K. documented his trip inside a box and demonstrated how he managed to survive. In the video, the owner of the channel explains that he was trying to come up with new ideas for challenges when he thought about mailing himself in a box to his own house.
The Human Mail Challenge consists in one or more people successfully mailing themselves inside a box to a friend, relative or a stranger’s house. YouTubers pick a cardboard box large enough to fit an adult and a couple of resources for their trip. The box is made with discreet, tiny holes so the person can breathe, and one side is marked to indicate the mailing carrier which side of the box should face up. Next, they go shopping for snacks, games, flashlights, blankets, etc. Once they have all the necessary supplies to complete their journey inside the box, they ask a friend to carefully seal them in and take it to the mailing office. After spending 24 hours in the box and arriving at the front door of the receiver of the package, the challenge is finally complete.
The phrase, “I’m going to mail myself to you,” surely pops into mind when watching videos of the Human Mail Challenge. After all, it’s one of the usual things that people say to express how much they want to be reunited with their loved ones. However, I doubt that anyone ever thought that using boxes as a transportation method was something that could happen in reality. Just thinking about spending an hour inside an object so small, not knowing what is going out outside, or breathing through a couple of holes punched in the walls is enough to make anyone feel claustrophobic.
The owner of the channel “Scrubzah” posted a video where he managed to build a box big enough to not only fit him, but also a small generator, a TV and enough pillows and blankets to have something pretty similar to a bed. Still, after spending the last 24 hours inside his cardboard box, enduring the shaky transportation and shifting around, whispering and almost being discovered when one employee at the mailing center started questioning the size of the box, he faces the camera and tells his viewers, “If you do this, I recommend you get Express shipping, because I’m telling you right now, you won’t be able to last in there for more than a day.”
It’s easy to see why Scrubzah warns people to avoid attempting this challenge for a time period longer than a day. In comparison to other fellow YouTubers’ Human Mail Challenge results, it’s clear that Scrubzah was fairly lucky. Kel, one of the members who runs the YouTube channel “Meet The Vloggers” posted his own video for the challenge. In contrast with Scrubzah’s journey inside a box, Kel didn’t have a box that was big enough to accommodate a TV. In fact, he is sitting with his knees to his chest for the whole duration of the trip, which causes him to feel cramps and makes getting any sleep a hard task. Kel says that the Human Mailing Challenge is, “the most uncomfortable thing that I have ever done,” and “This has been the worst night of my life.”
Very similarly, the YouTuber “RiceGum” shipped himself from Nevada to California because he thought that the Human Mail Challenge videos popping up on YouTube were a scam. He also added that, in case the challenge was real, this would be a more affordable alternative to travel and meet his friends in the Golden State. In RiceGum’s video, the viewer can watch the YouTuber struggle to fit inside the box with all the supplies. The space is so limited that moving without destroying the box or drawing attention to the package is almost impossible. But the real danger in RiceGum’s video comes to light when he says, “I googled a random address, so basically this box is going to a random address.” He made this decision to add “funniness” and a twist to the challenge.
Although it’s not rare to see YouTubers constantly come up with new challenges to draw the attention of their viewers, the Human Mail Challenge surely raises the bar and shows how much the vloggers are willing to do for their subscribers. Even though Scrubzah, Kel and RiceGum all managed to survive this dare, there are a million things that could have gone wrong during the time they spent inside those boxes. Lack of oxygen, cramps, cold, too much shifting, the box breaking or being crushed by weight and even getting caught are some of the risks that YouTubers choose to take in order to entertain their audience.
Whether they decide to do the challenge because they don’t think it’s real or are simply looking for new innovative videos for their channels, no one can deny the audacity of these videographers. Watching people try to survive inside a box for 24 hours makes viewers truly concerned; the viewers want to know if there were any issues and if the box arrived safely at the shipping address. At the same time, the same people watching the videos want to see someone build a fort inside a cardboard box and ship themselves through FedEx.
The reason behind the growing interest in the Human Mail Challenge is simple: It is not something everyone is willing to attempt. Because the challenge demands for people to sit in the darkness, with no access to a bathroom or any other sort of commodities, many would say that they are better off finding out how the journey of a box in the mail works through YouTube. They want to see what happens inside the UPS truck without risking their own health or getting into trouble. It’s comprehensible since, after all, many people like the feeling of adrenaline, but not danger.
The Human Mail Challenge leaves the internet wondering what will come next. After succeeding in turning a vague thought like “I would fly for cheaper in a box” into a reality, YouTube has the hard task of looking for something more dangerous, impossible and daring. But, sure enough, YouTube’s audience will be waiting to see what new adventures YouTubers pose for themselves with popcorn in hand.