Vans Challenge Sweeps Nation

Mallory Boring 
Contributing Writer

All over the world, people across all generations take part in viral internet challenges. One of the most recent challenges is the Vans Challenge.

This challenge instructs participants to toss their Vans into the air and see if it’ll land upright. The craze took over Twitter at the beginning of this month. People continue to participate in the challenge as March draws to a close.

This challenge isn’t the first of its kind to take over Twitter or capture the attention of millions. Before the internet was full of videos of people tossing Vans, there were other challenges all over social media. One of the earliest of these internet challenges was the Harlem Shake Challenge, sparked by a video of people dancing to the song “Harlem Shake” in 2013. Most people remember 2016’s Mannequin Challenge when people would post videos of themselves freezing and pretending to be none other than a mannequin.

The purpose for each individual challenge varies depending on the motivations for its creation. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge strove to raise awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as ALS. For this challenge participants dumped a bucket of ice water over their heads to help promote awareness. Unfortunately not all of the viral challenges many participate in have as nobel a cause as the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Some of the viral phenomenons of the past are actually quite dangerous and pose many health risks to participants. Among these challenges are the Cinnamon Challenge, Salt and Ice Challenge, and the notorious Tide Pod Challenge. In each of these challenges and a few others, some risk to health or safety are posed. For this reason participation was highly advised against.

More recent challenges that went viral shortly before the Vans Challenge included the “In My Feelings” Dance Challenge and the Bird Box Challenge. The “In My Feelings” Challenge was a byproduct of Drake’s hit song “In My Feelings”. The challenge consisted of participants putting their own spin on a set of moves correlating to lyrics in the song. The Bird Box Challenge, which came shortly after, was slightly more controversial. Mimicking the Netflix original film of the same title, people in the Bird Box challenge would complete activities varying from walking around their house blindfolded to, on the more extreme end, driving a car while blindfolded.

Now we have the Vans Challenge. Of those who have participated, the majority report that their Vans land upright. There are some outliers; however, there are many factors involved in the outcome of this challenge.

What does our participation in these challenges and viral phenomenons say about us? Perhaps it says that we’re highly social creatures looking for any opportunity to fit in and connect with others. Maybe it says we’re attention-seeking, always on the lookout for a chance for five seconds of fame. Whatever it says about us, the truth likely falls somewhere between the two for most. Viral phenomenons are a part of our social media driven culture.  

What the next viral challenge will be, there’s really no telling. All that can be said for certain is that there will be another. It is not a matter of if, but rather when. Whatever it may be, let’s just hope it doesn’t pose a danger to participants.

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