These awful social media trends show that humans are just the worst

stupid social media trends memes laura lewis flickr

There are always those social media trends that make you roll your eyes and wonder what the internet has come to, but then there are others that take it a step further and make you doubt your faith in humanity.

Whether they are trends that are incomprehensibly insensitive and morbid, or ones that are actually physically dangerous, social media has no shortage of either. We take a look at some of the worst social media trends, fads and memes to invade our screens.


The dead pose trend is the most recent of those included in this list — and is also a ‘proudly’ South African creation.

The grim trend saw Twitter users taking photos of themselves pretending to be corpses, including fake blood, gore and imitations of suicide.

It’s hard to play off something as a goofy trend when users go out of their way to make the images look as realistic as possible. These included images of women who look like they were beaten to death and assaulted (which is particular problematic in a country so rife with gender-based violence) and people hanging from nooses.

The trend was covered by various media outlets and condemned for its insensitivity and gruesomeness.

A video also circulated showing an apparently terrified toddler trying to wake a family member, who was playing dead as part of the challenge.


Travoning is similar to the dead pose trend, except with heightened insensitivity due to social media users attempting to recreate the scene of Trayvon Martin’s death.

African American teen Trayvon Martin made headlines in 2012 after he was shot and killed by neighbourhood watch member George Zimmerman. The teen had been accused of looking suspicious for wearing a hoody. An altercation ensued when Zimmerman began to shout at Martin, ending in the teen’s death after he was shot. The incident is one of the sparks that led to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Footage of Trayvon Martin’s body was shown during live coverage of the trial, after which the trend emerged. It shows users imitating Martin’s corpse while clutching a can of iced tea and some skittles — a reference to what Martin had bought from a shop before being shot.

The trend aims to mock the death of Martin, with many Americans expressing outrage at the posts circulating on social media.

Fire challenge

Unlike the last challenge, this one actually caught on (excuse the pun). It’s something you’d basically expect from drunk teenagers at a braai — but it turns out the lack of common sense extends much further.

This challenge involves putting a flammable liquid on yourself and setting it on fire. Some videos include the teens trying to pour water on themselves to extinguish the fire – but water spreads chemical fires.
Needless to say, the challenge went wrong very quickly, with several people ending up in hospital with serious burns.

Despite the obvious dangers of the trend, it actually occurred enough to warrant its own Wikipedia article.

Fortunately, the trend seems to have mostly died based on Google trends noted by KnowYourMeme.

Boiling water challenge

When I first heard of this trend, I was sure it must be a hoax – but it turns out it’s real. It’s so real that an American performing the ‘challenge’ injured her brother, giving him serious burns, after pouring a pan of boiling water on him. Later in the video she warns other to not do this challenge, showing her brother’s burns several weeks later.

Boiling Water Challenge from instant_regret

Other videos exist of users pouring extremely hot or boiling water over themselves. At least one of the videos appears to be fake, however it doesn’t state this in the description. Meanwhile others which show visible reddening of skin and screaming fits of pain appear to be real.

The trend never became viral due to the obvious injuries sustained and the triumph of common sense, however enough people did it for it to count as a trend.


A social media trend geared towards reducing body shaming and telling people not to judge a book by its cover (i.e. a person by their looks) sounds like a great idea, right?

Well, it’s not when that trend ends up reinforcing body shaming and its central message is ‘Don’t judge a person by their appearance, because they might actually be hot’. If you’re raising an eyebrow in confusion, we have matching expressions right now.

The trend started out with the right intentions and was said to be triggered by beauty blogger Em Ford, who released a video showing her taking off her makeup to reveal her acne, according to Time. The video was entitled ‘You Look Disgusting’ and highlighted the double standards in body shaming, with women being shamed both for wearing and not wearing makeup.

The video was aimed at telling people to accept themselves as even those we think are perfect actually have flaws.

However, the trend was soon overtaken by users posting pictures of themselves with drawn-on acne and monobrows, with a ‘reveal’ photo showing that they are actually attractive.

Instead of teaching people not to judge a book by its cover, the trend essentially mocked those not deemed conventionally attractive.

According to a The Bit Bag, over two million people participated in the trend – which is a whole lot of people making others feel bad about themselves…

What is the worst social media trend that you know of? Tell us in the comments below…

Feature image: Laura Lewis via Flickr (CC 2.0, resized)



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