condom snorting
Recently, media sources have discussed the so-called viral condom challenge, but critics are claiming the phenomenon isn't actually a popular trend (Image via KWCH)
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condom snorting

Despite what major news outlets claim, condom snorting isn’t popular amongst teens.

Unless you haven’t used social media or read the news, or if you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you’ve probably heard about the condom snorting challenge. Let’s start this off by stating unequivocally that condom snorting really is not a thing.

The condom snorting challenge is not a “new trend.” To the journalists and media outlets of the world who are presenting it as such, I have this to say: I don’t think those words mean what you think they mean. Condom snorting is neither new nor is it a trend — in fact, it has never really been a trend.

Despite a recent increase in press coverage surrounding it, condom snorting, while dangerous and disturbing, is in no way a new phenomenon. In fact, it has been around for several years, with many of the videos of teens and young adults attempting the challenge dating from between 2007 and 2013.

According to Snopes, the condom snorting challenge has gained traction in the news as of late due to, at least in part, coverage of the Tide Pod challenge a few months ago.

Indeed, when I looked to YouTube for videos of the challenge, the overwhelming majority of the results returned by my search featured media coverage of the supposedly “new” fad. The videos I found of teens actually participating in the challenge were few in number and mostly about five years old. And even during its supposed heyday in 2013, participation in this ludicrous challenge was practically nil.

What is the condom snorting challenge, you may ask? It’s exactly what it sounds like — young adults and teens are snorting condoms up their noses and then pulling them out through their mouths.

As with the Tide Pod challenge, it is dangerous, and, in some cases, could lead to death by choking or suffocation. That said, it is nowhere near the current craze the Tide Pod challenge was, nor is it as common as the news has made it out to be.

Even if snorting condoms doesn’t kill the youths participating in the challenge, it can damage the mucosa in the nose, nasal cavity or throat. At an absolute minimum, it will be very uncomfortable.

Additionally, thanks to cases of “accidental” condom ingestion and inhalation, we have a not-so-pretty picture of the complications one can expect to experience when utilizing condoms for anything other than external use.

I know what you’re thinking: “How does one ‘accidentally’ inhale or ingest a condom?” Let’s just say these instances resulted from safe oral sex gone awry. Yes, kids. Even safe sex can be hazardous to your health.

More specifically, the accidentally inhaled condom went through the young woman’s trachea into her lungs, blocked her airway and resulted in pneumonia and a collapsed lobe in one of her lungs. The accidental ingestion, on the other hand, resulted in appendicitis when a fragment of the ingested condom became lodged in the unlucky young woman’s appendix.

Doctors note that in the majority of cases, people who ingest condoms will most likely poop them out; however, given the risks associated with condom snorting, ingesting or inhaling a piece of latex covered in lubricant and spermicide is still not advisable. So, it would definitely be concerning if this was, in fact, a trend — but again, it is not a trend.

Apparently, the unfounded yet newfound concern surrounding the social media challenge owes much to an adults-only workshop, “Dares, Drugs, and Dangerous Teen Trends,” that a San Antonio school offered. Even in this context, it was offered merely as an example of the type of startlingly stupid social media challenges parents should be watching out for.

While participation in the challenge is so low it cannot even be considered a past, let alone current trend, members of news media attended the workshop in San Antonio, and their resulting alarmist article headlines pertaining to the topic have spread like wildfire.

CNBC declared the Condom Snorting challenge “every parent’s worst nightmare,” while Fox News referred to it as “a disturbing new trend” in a video that failed to provide examples of condom snorting any more recent than September 2017.

What could possibly motivate someone to do something so disturbing, painful and reckless? Similar to the Tide Pod challenge, the whole purpose behind participating in the condom snorting challenge is the same as that of young people’s reasoning for pouring salt into their hands and holding ice until it burns or dousing themselves with rubbing alcohol and then setting themselves ablaze.

If my above explanation hasn’t made it obvious enough, kids are doing it to increase their share of likes, views and subscriptions on YouTube and other social media platforms.

There is certainly no shortage of village idiots willing to go to extremes by doing stupid things in their misguided attempts at Insta-fame. Some of these things, such as the Tide Pod challenge, are in fact so stupid that they make them excellent candidates for Darwin Awards.

That said, even the foolish youths who just a few months ago went crazy posting videos of themselves ingesting Tide Pods don’t seem reckless enough to inhale condoms. To quote Dr. Bruce Y. Lee of Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, “Here’s the list of things you should be snorting up your nose — air.”

Do the videos currently in circulation on YouTube and other social media platforms have the potential to fuel a future condom snorting fad? Sure. As previously mentioned, there is no shortage of idiots looking for Insta-fame, and it certainly wouldn’t shock the public if the Tide-eaters suddenly started topping off their Tide Pod “Jell-O shot” with a snorted condom chaser, and perhaps that is why these stories seem so believable and likely. But given how long these videos have been out there, that seems highly unlikely.

So, if you find someone you love in possession of latex condoms, fear not. It is far more plausible that they are just having safe sex than that they are snorting condoms.

Writer Profile

Nola Hynes

University of Houston at Victoria

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