Protecting their reputation as the nation's foremost wet blanket, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is out with a new warning about the #inmyfeelings challenge.
Initially spawned by a video of social media star Shiggy dancing in the street to Drake song "In My Feelings," this latest hashtag challenge took off as celebrities such as Will Smith and Ciara put out similar videos "doing the shiggy" in unusual locations.
As these things tend to do, the challenge started to take on a more extreme dimension, with people uploading videos of themselves not just dancing in the street but actually jumping out of moving cars.
A number of people managed to pull this off flawlessly. Others did not.
— J-Hope (???) Spain (@Jhope_spain) July 23, 2018
— Barbara Kopylova (@baabsxx) July 15, 2018
Nevertheless, the videos are a stirring display of risk-taking and bravery many had thought beyond our current crop of fragile, sheltered youths. As these videos have gotten more exposure, however, they've also attracted a fair amount of finger-wagging from police, media, and safety regulators the world over.
"It's just super dangerous," said Methuen, Massachusetts, police chief Joseph Solomon. "It's only a matter of time before someone is sucked under the wheels of the car or dragged, or the driver who's out there recording it with their phone hits someone crossing the street."
Three "social media influencers" were reportedly arrested in Abu Dahbi for performing the challenge. Egyptian officials have threatened anyone attempting it with a year in jail.
On Monday, the NTSB's chief of safety advocacy, Nicholas Worrell, gave an interview to The Blast where he declared in no uncertain terms that jumping out of a vehicle in pursuit of a viral video is just not worth it.
"There's a time and place for everything, but our nation's highways and roadways are no place for the #inmyfeelings challenge," said Worrell.
The agency later tweeted out the article with an additional warning.
We have some thoughts about the #InMyFeelings challenge. #Distraction in any mode is dangerous & can be deadly. Whether you are a #driver, #pilot, or #operator, focus on safely operating your vehicle. Read more on this #NTSBmwl issue: https://t.co/b9D0IwNemV #MWLMonday https://t.co/vt6oFTbDsj
— NTSB (@NTSB) July 23, 2018
It is true that jumping out of a moving vehicle is a dangerous and inadvisable activity. Yet despite the videos of people tumbling out of cars, running into poles, or otherwise executing a less than perfect shiggy, it's not at all clear that anyone has actually been seriously injured or died from participating in the challenge.
Warnings from the nation's top safety watchdog thus feel both overdone and potentially counterproductive. Nothing gets teens' self-destructive juices flowing more than telling them they aren't allowed to do something.
So while the NTSB's heart is no doubt in the right place, its time is probably better spent investigating the mercifully few plane crashes we have, not fanning the flames of the latest viral craze.