Despite all the recent media attention being paid to the Tide Pod challenge, in which social media users dare each other to bite into one of the colorful laundry packets, most people recognize it for what it is: a very weird joke. Few teens are actually swallowing laundry detergent. There have been 86 so far in January, which is more than all of last year but still not very many. If you want to worry about people eating laundry-room poison, worry about young children who ingest it by accident—that number's in the thousands each year.
But Fox News contributor Tomi Lahren isn't one to let a good outrage go to waste, particularly if it involves kids these days and can somehow be blamed on the left. The Tide Pod challenge doesn't actually meet those criteria, because 1) it's not real, and 2) it has nothing to do with the left. And yet, in a recent video rant, Lahren blamed the "detergent-eating craze" on the breakdown of the American family and the left's monopoly on popular media.
"I know what you're thinking, the Tide Pod challenge couldn't possibly be political, could it?" Lahren says in the video, vocalizing my very thoughts as I watched. "Actually, yes, it is. It's just the latest symptom of a larger problem: the breakdown of the American family."
According to Lahren, "parents nowadays" give their kids too much freedom and let them do whatever they want, "but this modern loosey-goosey method of parenting doesn't teach right from wrong or sane from insane." Under liberalism, apparently, nobody tells kids what to do, so they're eating Tide Pods. Thanks, Obama.
Again, most of the people eating Tide Pods are toddlers, and they're not doing it because their parents made them moral relativists. And since when have 21st-century parents been too removed from their children's lives? As Reason's Lenore Skenazy documents on a weekly basis, the government routinely punishes parents for giving their kids too much freedom: letting them walk to school, play in the park, chill at home by themselves, etc. If anything, kids and teens are being oversupervised, both at home, and in schools.
In fact, I'm tempted to parse the Tide Pod challenge as some kind of misguided teen rebellion against our increasingly bubble-wrapped world. But I won't, because there's nothing to parse. Because deliberately eating Tide Pods isn't really a thing. Joking about it is.