If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you? How about if some strangers on the internet vacuum-sealed themselves into plastic bags? For many people, the answer is a disheartening yes.
The “Vacuum Challenge”—sometimes called the “Trash Bag Challenge” (or “bin bag challenge” for household thrill-seekers across the pond)—is the latest questionable content to go viral.
Internet challenges typically entice teenagers looking to impress their friends on social media. This time, however, the behavior seems to be coming from inside the home.
The Vacuum Challenge, which follows in the footsteps of past hits like the Tide Pod Challenge, Bird Box Challenge, and the—mercilessly fake—Shell Challenge, involves willingly placing yourself inside a large plastic bag, usually a garbage bag, and, with knees tucked into your chest, allowing a second person to suck the air out of the bag with the hose attachment on a vacuum.
Endless videos depict curious bloggers and laypeople trying the challenge, some of which have racked up thousands of likes. Particularly distressing is how many of the videos feature parents conducting the challenge with their children.
The uploads repeatedly show the person inside the bag gasp, cackle, and generally look confused, while experiencing what must be a strange new sensation. They also tend to fall over. The visual result looks like a skin tight, latex-like suit encasing your body.
Videos of the challenge actually began being posted several years ago, but recently resurfaced in the year of our internet, 2019.
It may look like fun, but the Vacuum Challenge could potentially become dangerous, leading to cerebral hypoxia, a condition in which there is “a decrease of oxygen supply to the brain even though there is adequate blood flow,” according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Most of the videos involve two or more participants, and for good reason, as it’s not wise to try this alone. Once a person is vacuum-sealed inside the bag, it becomes nearly impossible for them to move their limbs, making it difficult to escape. One boy who tried it alone was allegedly stuck inside the bag for two whole hours as he waited for his parents to come home and rescue him.
Enjoy these videos, but probably best not to try this at home.