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What is the #MilkCrateChallenge all about?

A new viral trend that has already brought some young Americans to the hospital

What is the #MilkCrateChallenge all about? A new viral trend that has already brought some young Americans to the hospital

Viral challenges on social media are a bit like natural disasters: you never know when one will arrive, but only that at some point it will arrive. The latest to arrive, after the slew of relatively quiet challenges of the lockdown, which included the remaking at home the most famous paintings in history and the Switch Challenge in the mirror, instead makes us think back to the old #BlueWhale and #Skullbreaker that brought so many young people to the hospital. It is called #MilkCrateChallenge and plans to climb over the steps of a pyramid made of those plastic boxes trying to go up and down without falling to the ground causing the precarious structure to fall – the plastic boxes in fact become more unstable as the pile is higher, increasing the probability of falling.

The winners take home the money from the bets made against them, which usually do not exceed twenty dollars. Needless to say, the funniest part of the challenge is to see the unfortunate participants fall to the ground and, at the moment, only one girl known by the name of Tee has been filmed completing the challenge. Many others, on the other hand, suffered damage and bruises in their fall, leading many to speak of the challenge as a very dangerous game.

How was it born?

The archive of online phenomena Know Your Meme has reconstructed the origins of the challenge, which originated last June 23 with the video of the JoyRidersTV Bonus Footy channel entitled Guy falls off 6 Milk Crates, but receiving a very few views. This video was taken last August 13 and 14 on Facebook by users Kenneth Waddell and Jordan Browne who posted various videos of people trying to replicate the challenge on the home lawn. The video published last August 14 received 8800 reactions and 51,000 shares. But the explosion comes two days later when Jordan Browne posts a video from TikTok of @taylorxxlauren that in one day gains 30,000 reactions and 5.3 million views. During those four days the challenge had already become viral, also becoming the subject of memes that made fun of its dangerousness.

Why are Fail videos so successful?

The most popular videos of the #MilkCrateChallenge fall into the much broader category of the so-called Fail, that is, those videos that show in a humorous key accidents, falls and various slips that exists well before Instagram and the Internet – just think of the success of video clip television series. According to neuroscientist Emile Bruneau, interviewed in 2018 by Business Insider, the reason for the success of these videos lies in a feeling known only by the German name of schadenfreude, which literally means "pleasure caused by the misfortune of others", and which is evolutionarily linked to the formation and structuring of social groups and the management of empathy within them. Here's how Bruneau explained this sentiment at the time:

«Our brains evolved for millions of years in a situation when you had small groups of humans scrabbling out in existence against other small groups of humans in a relatively harsh environment. In order to survive that you’d need your group to be incredibly tight-knit, and so this would both select for something like empathy — feeling for the suffering for other group members — and also extreme aggression towards others, something like schadenfreude».

In a 2011 American medical study, for example, the brain activity of a group of football fans was studied while watching members of the opposite team slip, fall or miss a pass. When these episodes occur, a part of the brain called striatum increased its activity – a part associated with feelings of pleasure and decision-making ability. What the study showed, however, is that the subjects whose striatum was more active were also more prone to attack, verbally or physically, the members of the opposite supporters, schadenfreude being the opposite of empathy.