What the two images above have in common is that they each represent a human behavior.
One human behavior is stupid.
And the other human behavior is smart.
The above image on the left is a milk crate – an ordinary item, nothing remarkable about it.
Until some humans got the idea of piling them into a pyramid:
And challenging themselves and other people to climb on them.
It’s called the “Milk Crate Challenge,” and like so many stupid things, it’s recently gone viral, shared by millions across social media.
Many are calling it the “funniest challenge since the Ice Bucket Challenge.”
Many are calling it a “public health hazard largely fueled by social media.”
And many doctors are asking people to stop climbing on stacks of milk crates, reminding us that:
- You who participate in this are showing up in emergency rooms with injuries including shoulder dislocations, rotator-cuff tears, ACL and meniscus (knee) tears, broken wrists and spinal cord injuries.
- You who show up in emergency rooms are putting more stress on hospitals already dealing with the overwhelming surge in coronavirus infections.
- You are behaving stupidly.
OK – #3 was me, speaking on behalf of the doctors.
I’m going to spare you the torture of going to YouTube or some other platform and watching the awful Milk Crate Challenge videos.
I did it for you.
I learned it’s a simple, two-step process.
After you’ve stacked your milk crates – and the higher and less stable, the better –
(Costumes are optional.)
Step 1: Climb the milk crates:
Step 2: Fall, sustain injuries:
Lest you think this activity is experienced only by badly dressed white guys, I saw all manner of people climbing – and falling off – milk crates: male, female, black, white, including this female:
Two last thoughts. First:
Earlier I mentioned those who described the Milk Crate Challenge as the “funniest challenge since the Ice Bucket Challenge.”
There is no comparison here. The Ice Bucket Challenge, which we heard a lot about starting in 2014, at least had a purpose. It:
“…raised awareness and over $200 million for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease…It put ALS on the map and attracted more investigators and investment to the research.”
I’m finding nothing online to indicate that the Milk Crate Challenge has any goal with regards to raising money for a worthy cause.
Or any goal at all.
I went online to see if anyone was posing – and answering – the question, Why are people doing this? and found a thoughtful response in this article:
The article said, in part:
“According to Julie Ancis, a cyberpsychology expert and professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, the answer is complicated.
“The concept of a ‘dare’ or a challenge isn’t new, nor is trying something outrageous for an adrenaline rush or for attention, Ancis said, but the internet has changed our relationship to these kinds of stunts. Instead of feeling pressure to perform for our friends or family, many crave impressing peers, or really anyone, who’s part of their online community. It’s all about likes, shares, views.
“All humans have a need for recognition, Ancis told ABC News. ‘This is an opportunity for millions of people to see you engaging in something that seems so extreme…The attention or competition for attention is very fierce, and it makes these dares more and more extreme to capture attention.’”
So the answer is complicated.
But the people are not.
They’re behaving stupidly.
Especially since this outcome is almost inevitable:
Now let’s go back to the sheep image at the top of this post.
The sheep represents a smart human behavior.
This is an image of sheep in a pasture, in a heart formation.
When I saw this, I thought,
“That’s impossible – isn’t it?”
“Who did this?”
“How did they do it?”
Sheep have the reputation of being not very bright, but according to this and many other articles:
Sheep are actually pretty darn smart.
But – even if they’re four-legged Einsteins, there no way a herd is going to run into a pasture and form itself into a heart shape.
There’s a “who” involved in this, and a smart one, at that.
The “who” is a sheep farmer named Ben Jackson of New South Wales, Australia (pictured).
In late August, Jackson had recently lost an aunt to cancer. He planned to attend her funeral in Queensland, about 250 miles away, but the border between the neighboring states was closed to restrict travel because of a coronavirus outbreak.
Jackson couldn’t attend the funeral, but he still wanted to express his love.
Here’s how he did it.
He used grain dropped from the back of a truck onto a large pasture to form a heart.
When the heart shape was completed, Jackson opened the gate to the pasture to allow in scores of hungry sheep.
The sheep did what comes naturally – they ate, following the trail of grain.
And Jackson followed the sheep with a drone overhead to videotape it:
Jackson added his aunt’s favorite song – Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water – for a soundtrack, and the video was played at his aunt’s funeral.
He also posted the video on social media, where it’s had more than a million views just in his homeland. “This heart that I’ve done for my auntie, it certainly seems like it’s had a bit of an effect across Australia,” Jackson said modestly.
“I just hope that when I did it, she was having a peep through the clouds and was able to see it.”
Smart and sweet.
So, where does all this leave us?
I guess all we can do is hope for less stupid human behavior stories like this:
And more smart human behavior stories like this: