1The Slender Man: Blurring the lines between fiction and reality
The Slender Man is a creation of Something Awful forum user Eric Knudsen (a.k.a. "Victor Surge"). First appearing in 2009, the Slender Man is an unnaturally tall figure that usually appears faceless and in a suit. He usually has his long, tentacle-like arms which he can extend to capture prey and is known for stalking, abducting, or traumatizing people, particularly children.
Slender Man's story has grown over the years, with different people adding to the myth on horror sites such as creepasta.com. Fantasy crossed over into reality however, when two 12-year-old girls in Wisconsin nearly stabbed their friend to death as an offering to Slender Man in May 2014.
While most people understand Slender Man is fictional, it appears some do not. A second Slender Man stabbing occurred in Ohio in June 2014. A mother says her 13-year-old daughter attacked her with a knife and that the stabbing was driven by her obsession with Slender Man.
Creepypasta issued a statement saying their site is based on fiction and it does not endorse killing. "This incident shows what happens when the line of fiction and reality ceases to exist," the statement said.
2The Knife Game: A new song accompanies and old game and gives it new life online
A YouTube video of the game and the accompanying "Knife Game Song” (written by user Rusty Cage) went viral in 2011 and the game was resurrected in 2013 with new lyrics by Norwegian YouTuber Hanna Ellingseter.
3The Bikini Bridge: A hoax meme that encourages eating disorders
The "bikini bridge" – a term for the space between your bathing suit bottom and your hip bones when you lie down – replaces the "thigh gap" as this year's unrealistic benchmark of beauty.
Experts are concerned that that the bikini bridge could encourage eating disorders as impressionable young woman (and men) could possibly go to great lengths to achieve the look. Lynn Grefe, president and CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association, said, ""When someone has an eating disorder, they will view this as a challenge - do I have that bridge? It just promotes the sad competition in a person's brain, as they never feel thin enough."
4The Salt and Ice Challange: This simple combination causes severe burns
The Salt and Ice Challenge involves wetting an area of skin and then covering it with table salt, before applying pressure with an ice cube. This causes a burning sensation and participants compete to see who can withstand the pain longest.
The challenge is painful because of the chemical process involved. Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, but adding salt causes the freezing point to drop to 0 degrees. When applying ice, heat is pulled from the skin. As competitors try to outlast each other, they run the risk of blisters, burns, or frostbite.
In 2012, a 12-year-old Pittsburgh boy was treated for second degree burns from the challenge. Check out his cautionary tale here:
5The Cinnamon Challenge: A simple spice could trigger permanent lung damage
The challenge objective is to film oneself swallowing a spoonful of ground cinnamon in under a minute without drinking anything. Simple enough, but this seemingly innocuous challenge can do some real damage.
Cinnamon dust is caustic in large doses and cannot be digested without water. By inhaling the dust, teens run the risk of inflaming or scarring their lungs.
While there have been no reported deaths from the challenge, there has been injury. In 2012, Michigan teen Dejah Reed spent four days in the hospital with an infection and collapsed lung after taking the challenge.
“She was going in and out of consciousness. She couldn't breathe. She was turning pale,” her father, Fred Reed, told local affiliate WXYZ. “I hope parents and kids learn that it's not fun and games. She could have died.”
6Gallon Smashing: Teens film themselves engaging in supermarket vandalism
The dangers are obvious – gallons could hit nearby shoppers as they fall or people could slip on the liquid, resulting in injury or a lawsuit against the supermarket.
7The Knockout Game: A prank possibly overhyped by the media
What makes the meme dangerous is not only the act perpetuated, but how the media is reporting the crimes. Reports that the game is new, widespread, and that it is always black-on-white are overhyped if not completely false. While no one denies random assaults do happen (and are uploaded to YouTube), there is no proof the game has reached epidemic levels, nor is there evidence the attacks are racially motivated.
8Car Surfing: A meme that almost guarantees a fatality
A 2008 study revealed 58 deaths from car surfing and 41 reports of nonfatal injury from 1990 through summer 2008. This dangerous activity has only increased and gone viral – there are hundreds of videos of people performing the stunt.
The phenomenon may have become part of the cultural lexicon back in 1985 due to Michael J. Fox's performance in Teen Wolf: