Condom challenge: The dangerous ‘internet trend’ debunked

The internet can stir up any moral panic it wants. This week it was the condom challenge that made headlines. Worldwide news organisations began bleating messages of despair when a video of someone inhaling a condom appeared to go viral.

Trouble was, it hadn’t gone viral at all. Mainly because the video in question was years old. It dated back to 2013, when there was a brief craze for shoving condoms up noses – but its popularity was very brief.

The condom challenge actually dates back even further, and has been bubbling away under the surface for about a decade. Rather than an explosive new trend, the bizarre pursuit has been very much of weird niche cult status for a while.

There is no new trend for teenagers inhaling condoms, alright?

That fact didn’t stop news outlets like Arizona’s 12 news sharing the ‘news’ rampantly this week though, reporting afresh like the story were a hot cake.

Related: Adam Rippon speaks about Grindr and going through 400 condoms at Winter Olympics

This week’s news reporting of a ‘trend’ (note: one video that unearthed) illustrates how such little evidence can spark moral panic, accelerated by busybodies who live to inhale – and feverishly spread – gossipy news.

So rather than reporting old news, or comment on the general public’s willingness to jump on a story and ride it like a jet ski, splashing about sensationally on it to make waves, we’re here to make a sensible point.

Inhaling condoms is stupid and you shouldn’t do it.

More than being stupid, it turns out inhaling condoms is incredibly dangerous.

Related: Man with HIV sabotaged condoms to secretly infect men he met on Grindr, court told

In a sentence that has made us weep and pray we’ll never see another condom challenge again, Bruce Y. Lee writes for Forbes: “Imagine stuffing up your nose something that is larger than your nostril opening and designed not to break.”

Bruce goes on to warn how condoms could easily get stuck in your throat, “blocking your breathing or causing you to choke”.

And that’s disregarding the general nausea that would undoubedbly develop when trying to slowly, painstakingly snort a piece of latex so hard that it dangles down into the back of your mouth.

Two people have had horrific condom-swallowing experiences, according to Bruce Y. Lee’s research.

Related: Hairdresser cut tip of condom then told student he’s ‘riddled’ with HIV, court hears

One, a “27-year-old woman who performed oral sex on a man wearing a condom. The condom went down her trachea and into her lungs, blocked one of her airways, and resulted in pneumonia and a collapse of the right upper lobe of her lung.”

Another, “a 26-year old woman who accidentally swallowed a condom during oral sex subsequently developed appendicitis because a fragment of the condom lodged inside her appendix.”

Experiment with your partner, not with your condom!