Was it only a month or so ago that news outlets around the country were breathlessly reporting that today's teens were getting whacked-out on hand sanitizer?
As the Los Angeles Times told the tale (and USA Today reprised it), "Six teenagers have shown up in two San Fernando Valley emergency rooms in the last few months with alcohol poisoning after drinking hand sanitizer."
If that's not enough for anxious parents to order sub-dermal tracker chips to place under their kids' skin, chew on this: "Some of the teens used salt to separate the alcohol from the sanitizer, making a potent drink similar to a shot of hard liquor. Distillation instructions can be found on the Internet."
Don't you dare think just because no one is actually doing something that it's not about to become the next big thing: "Although there's only been a few cases, county public health toxicology expert Cyrus Rangan says it could signal a dangerous trend."
The hand-sanitizer story is a classic of the particularly powerful news narrative that might be called "The Kids These Days" story. The recipe is as simple as it is intoxicating: Take kids, a wholesome product or activity (cleanser, say, or a sleepover), throw in drugs, booze, or sex (preferably all three), some form of vaguely scary technology (teh Interwebz, cell phones), and shake vigorously (like Mentos in a 2 liter bottle of Pepsi, or maybe Pop Rocks with a Coca-Cola chaser), and let it rip!
While we await the next fake news trend about teens and sex and drugs—and the coming federal ban on so-called bath salts and fake marijuana—here are five classic freakouts to contemplate.
Next: Oooh, oooh, that smell (no, not that one)...