Is "Drive By" challenge not a challenge at all?

(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

There have been some stupid social media challenges through the years. Who doesn’t remember the Tide Pod Challenge, as an example?

However, those challenges were never as prevalent as many people feared. They happened, but they were isolated and, frankly, some teens are just idiots who don’t need much prompting to do something stupid.

But recently, I’ve covered a reported social media challenge where people drive up and start shooting folks with Orbeez or airsoft guns.

The problem? It doesn’t look like there’s actually a challenge.

Fears of an “Orbeez Challenge” have spread as police departments across the U.S. issued warnings to parents, but the “challenge” doesn’t actually appear to exist.

Orbeez are beads that expand when mixed with water and after multiple incidents of shootings involving guns using Orbeez as bullets, arrests have been made. Police and media reports alike frequently cited an apparent TikTok “Orbeez Challenge” as the cause of the sudden increase in these incidents—yet no challenge is present on the app.

TikTok, however, told Newsweek that Orbeez gun shooting content is not native to TikTok and that such videos are not popular or a common trend on the app.

Videos of an #OrbeezChallenge do exist on TikTok, but rarely feature Orbeez guns, instead showing people harmlessly playing with the water beads in snow and water or freezing them. In fact, Orbeez even created and sell an “Orbeez Challenge Activity Kit” to encourage such videos.

Now, I can trust Newsweek to screw up just about any story, but I don’t see why they’d manage to screw this one up. After all, it seems pretty straightforward.

However, as the article itself notes, there have been a number of cases of people shooting Orbeez at people throughout the nation. I’ve covered a number of them myself. I’ve also talked about how this challenge would get people killed.

Only, if it’s not an actual challenge, then what gives?

Damned if I know. It sure looks like kids are doing some kind of challenge, but it may also be people saw someone do it and thought they might be able to go viral. Fame is a hell of a drug, after all, and it wouldn’t be surprising that someone would do something stupid to try and achieve it.

Is that’s what’s happening here?

I honestly don’t know. What I do know, however, is that if it continues, someone is likely to end up dead. Yeah, some of these guns don’t look very realistic, but some are close enough that I wouldn’t wait to be shot at to determine if it’s a real gun or not.

Remember, we live in the world of mass shootings. Someone randomly shooting at you is the kind of thing that happens just often enough for it to be a viable threat.

Frankly, it doesn’t matter where this originates. What matters is that kids knock it off and stop trying to shoot at the unwilling. Orbeez guns look like a hell of an upgrade from the water guns of my youth and I’m thinking of getting some for the family so we can have fun this summer, but they’re not something you want to roll up on some third party with and shoot at them.