New social media challenge may well get someone killed

(AP Photo/Patrick Sison, File)

Social media is something of a mixed bag.

On one hand, a lot of good can come of it. People can connect with like-minded folks and learn more about their favorite hobbies or even find a whole new career.

On the other, it’s a horrible place filled with horrible people doing horrible things.

And that’s not even counting what the sites themselves like to do like censorship.

However, one of the things that pop up from time to time are social media challenges, where people do stupid things then post them. Some, like the old Ice Bath Challenge, were designed for a specific purpose, namely to raise awareness of a medical issue and/or raise money for it.

Others, however, are just idiotic. We’ve all joked about the Tide Pod Challenge, after all, but a new one may be even worse.

Chula Vista Police said nine people have been attacked in what appears to be the latest social media challenge.

“It’s very stupid. This could have very tragic consequences,” warned CVPD Lt. Dan Peak.

He said they’ve received nine reports in the last year of Chula Vista residents being shot in a drive-by-style attack involving airsoft guns or toy guns that fire Orbeez balls. Orbeez are small colorful plastic pellets that expand when placed in water.

“It’s considered assault with a deadly weapon. So, these juveniles may think they’re doing a prank, the next thing you know they’re going to be in Juvenile Hall,” explained Peak.

Now, Peak isn’t wrong at all. However, I think he’s understating the ramifications of this act.

If I’m walking down the street and someone rolls up on me with something that looks like a gun, I’m going to assume it’s a gun and act accordingly.

While California isn’t exactly a Stand Your Ground state, it’s not going to be hard to make the case that someone in a car is going to be able to chase you down if you try to get away, thus meaning a duty to retreat isn’t really applicable.

That means someone who shoots one of these people will likely be justified in their use of force.

Why would anyone risk that for some idiotic social media challenge?

Chula Vista police say they’ve received 41 phone calls in the last year from people witnessing similar attacks. Considering Chula Vista’s size, that’s not an insane amount by any stretch of the imagination, but considering what this challenge is simulating, it’s worth it to discuss regardless of how prevalent they are.

And California is likely one of the safer places to try this.

In Texas, Missouri, Arizona, or Tennessee, you’re likely to not survive the experience. You’ll make a splash on social media all right, but not as a budding celebrity. You’ll be little more than a cautionary tale.

Plus, frankly, I don’t know that I’d be able to feel bad about it. After all, after the whole Tamir Rice thing, people should be familiar with the idea that realistic toy guns are close enough in looks to the real ones that you’ll get shot.

So yeah, I don’t think I’ll feel over bad about it.