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Don't Try the Apocalypse at Home: Netflix Discourages Viewers from the "Bird Box" Challenge

Why are viewers walking themselves (and, in some cases, their children) into walls?

It seems that Netflix is fearful that its latest survival thriller will kill their subscribers.

While Bird Box portrays a disturbing future where humanity's been pushed to self-destruction, many viewers are working to bring the nightmare to fruition by emulating the characters' struggles in the comforts of their own homes. The post-apocalyptic film stars Sandra Bullock as a mother with two young children struggling to survive after society has fallen to creatures whose appearance drives people to suicide. The movie thrives on the psychological horror the family faces as they must remain blindfolded while navigating a dangerous world.

Now the internet is infected by the Bird Box Challenge, which simply "challenges" people to conduct themselves while blindfolded. Of course, the innate dangers of doing so quickly became apparent on Youtube and Twitter. Some videos show people simply stumbling, while one popular clip on Twitter shows a blindfolded toddler being guided by an equally blindfolded parent–directly into a wall.

Netflix was so alarmed by the risk involved in these Bird Box homages that they took to their official Twitter account on January 2: "Can't believe I have to say this, but: PLEASE DO NOT HURT YOURSELVES WITH THIS BIRD BOX CHALLENGE. We don't know how this started, and we appreciate the love, but Boy and Girl," referring to the children in the movie, "have just one wish for 2019 and it is that you not end up in the hospital due to memes."

Judging by their message, that's not to say they want you to stop taking the challenge, and they definitely don't want you to stop posting about Bird Box. After the film's release in mid-December, Netflix boasted that 45 million subscribers had streamed the movie in the first week, a record-breaking amount of engagement for the streaming platform. Doubtlessly, the movie's popularity spurred the challenge to become viral just as much as the challenge helped the movie increase viewership. And that's not to mention that the Bird Box challenge gained momentum in large part due to the swift popularity of Bird Box memes, which swept the internet as soon as the movie became available.

Here are a few you might've seen:

So why are viewers walking themselves (and, in some cases, their children) into walls? Is it because consumers are ready for more interactive media that challenges all of their senses? Are viewers striving to understand disabilities like impaired vision? Nope, not likely. Bird Box seemed to sweep the internet during the last holiday break of 2018. Boredom drives people to new idiocy, which forced Netflix to begin 2019 with the message: "Don't try the apocalypse at home."

Meg Hanson is a Brooklyn-based writer, teacher and jaywalker. Find Meg at her website and on Twitter @megsoyung.

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