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It is funny how some news stories just won’t die and come back around every few years. Some times it is repackaged, polished up and presented back to us as a shiny new story… Like last years swine flu threat, that was a repackaged bird flu, which in turn was a repackaged SARS, the more names it has the more we are supposed to fear it. The same works with terrorism… Now, since the drama of the last decade we can’t even see the good side of a near miss, instead we allow it to be used against us to make our travelling more miserable. Since the Internet explosion (a metaphorical explosion… no need to worry, the terrorists have not struck again) many have used it as a scapegoat, blaming the Internet for such things as paedophilia, violence and the decline of morality. Today I opened my morning paper to see the latest ‘Internet craze’ that is sweeping the globe, apparently, and it appears that Britain is being accused of not doing enough to stop it.
Friend on friend strangulation has been practiced by teenagers for a long time… Every boy in my year at high school played ‘the fainting game’… What we didn’t do, however, was call it ‘Space Monkey’ as the papers seem to have picked up on. I’m not saying that some dumb kids haven’t called it that, but you have to admit it sounds like a name that only a journalist would deem fit for circulation. What does space monkey even mean?
The concept of the ‘game’ is one kid stands in a wide space (very important) and takes a series of deep breaths, then a willing buddy grabs the first kid by the throat and, with both hands, tightens the skin around the neck, which in turn tightens the arteries that supply oxygen to the brain. Once the willing buddy feels his best friends brain has been denied enough oxygen he releases his grasp and the strangled kid reaches euphoria for around 5 seconds before collapsing into what is best described as a fit followed by a blackout.
What the media are latching on to is the fact that it gives you a high… What they fail to realise is that getting high has little, if nothing to do with it. It all boils down to not wanting to look foolish, which they accomplish by ‘spazzing out’ on the floor. The so called high you get is basically the euphoric feeling you get when someone knocks you out… Right after the punch in the face, and right before you black out… The journey into the black, if you will. Anyone who has been knocked out by any means will know what I am talking about, no more a high than standing up too quick and getting a head rush.
‘The choking game’ as it is known in Britain, or ‘the scarf game’ as the French are calling it has parents worried, there are even websites dedicated to stopping children playing this game. One real problem with that campaign, or any campaign like it, is that everyone refers to it as a game. I can’t see the logic in that, if you don’t want a kid to do something give it a scary name… Like ‘Brain Damage’ or ‘Liquid Dinners for life’. Another real problem with campaigning against it is the exposure it receives, which re-introduces it to a whole new generation who are at that age where they are just discovering what their bodies can do, and are bored out their minds.
YouTube.com is under fire from angry parents who don’t seem to understand that simply telling their kids that this isn’t like other highs, and that cutting off oxygen to the brain doesn’t make you cool as much as it can make you a vegetable. Angry parents acheive nothing, it took my friend collapsing into a pile of cow dung to realise that, one, the game could go wrong, and two, that my ‘let your friends do it first’ policy really worked out for me in that situation. Later I would find out what it was like when we tried it with a metal chain, believe it or not, in an attempt to be more individual and hardcore.
Of course, there is a serious side to this as people are dying… Most cases seem to be from head injuries after falling… which is why it is important that if you are going to try it, you do so with lots of space. There are many videos on YouTube.com showing exactly what these kids are getting up to and most of it is hilarious… Which may sound like I am making light of the situation, but my point of view is as follows, this cannot be stopped, it isn’t that big of a deal. Sure it’s dumb and irresponsible, but I can guarantee that the smart kids who did it to look cool (providing they live through the first time) won’t do it twice, the dumb kids who do it all the time have far deeper problems than their love of the black, and parents should spend more time educating their children face to face on the dangers of such ‘games’, and less time starting websites and making bad YouTube videos that make it look fun.