1The Slender Man: Blurring the lines between fiction and reality
While the Slender Man meme isn't a danger in and of itself, there has been some violence surrounding the myth.
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
The Knife Game isn't all that new - before it became a meme, it was a rite of passage for some kids for decades. Known in different circles as pinfinger, nerve, bishop, stabscotch, or five finger fillet (FFF), the game consists of placing the palm of one's hand face down on a table, with fingers spread apart and using a knife to stab back and forth between fingers at an increasingly fast speed. The downside to the game is pretty obvious.
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
In January 2014, a 4chan user created the "bikini bridge" as a new body trend they likely hoped would go viral. They created and posted propaganda for and against the trend then sat back and watched the internet do what it does. Soon, a meme was born.
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
What is your threshold for pain? Inflicting a serious burn on yourself is no one's idea of fun, but that is exactly what happened when the Salt and Ice Challenge went viral.
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 Cinnamon Challenge has been seen online since 2001 and only increased in popularity with the advent of YouTube. By 2012, the challenged peaked with 70,000 mentions per day on Twitter. Video uploads continue on YouTube to this day.
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
In 2013, gallon smashing became all the rage on YouTube. The idea is simple – teen walks into supermarket with friend who films he/she picks up a two gallons of milk, juice (or whatever else comes in the gallon jugs), and as he/she pretends to fall, smashes the gallons on the ground.
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
The Knockout Game is not unlike the Knife Game in that it has been around in some form for decades. Here's how it works –bands of roving, bored teens with nothing better to do find an unsuspecting an victim and knock them out with a single sucker punch for their own amusement – think Alex and his Droogs in the film A Clockwork Orange.
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
Here's one you don't want to try. Car surfing involves a person climbing atop a moving car and attempting to ride it as if it were a surfboard. "Ghost riding the whip" is a an offshoot of that – the person driving leaves his seat and rides the car while it's still moving.
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: