Still from an Instagram video allegedly showing one Fraser Valley high school student drinking what is allegedly urine of another in front of a large crowd. An expert on youth behaviour online said the post shows a common youth lack of understanding of online consequences. (Instagram)

Apparent ‘urine drinking’ prank in B.C. shows kids still don’t understand social media: expert

UBC prof says post highlights lack of understanding by youth of the internet’s ‘invisible audience’

WARNING: Some readers might find details in this story offensive.

After a “three… two… one…” countdown, the chanting comes from dozens of students standing in a circle outside a Fraser Valley high school – their cellphones raised to record with all eyes on one student in the centre who is holding a Red Solo cup.

The student then holds the cup, which is said to be filled with another student’s urine, and chugs the contents entirely, as the onlookers cheer and jump around.

The shocking, concerning and rather grotesque incident was caught on camera and, in predictable Generation Z fashion, was posted on a publicly viewable Instagram account. Apparently, the student did it for $500, according to the students who posted it.

Black Press Media has decided not to post the video in its entirety, nor identify the specific school, to protect the identity of the youth involved.

According to comments on the Instagram account, both the boy who drank the urine and the boy who provided it were suspended by school administration.

“Unfortunately, despite the massive support, the admins have suspended both of them for five days,” according to a caption under the now-deleted Instagram post. “This is an OUTRAGE everyone. We need to spread awareness.”

Later, another post was made spreading the idea that on Feb. 13 students should wear yellow or orange “in commemoration” of the “unjust suspension” of the two boys.

When contacted about whether the two were in fact suspended, the principal of the school said he “cannot discuss consequences for these students as it is a confidential matter between the school and the families.”

While the whole incident is understandably a big joke to the teenagers involved and those commenting and liking the posts, the fact that the video was posted on a public site, shared hundreds of times, leading to the suspension of two young people points to a worrying trend for those who study such behaviour.

Eric Meyers is an associate professor at the University of B.C.’s School of Information whose research focuses on youth behaviour online.

He said that despite youth today likely being the most knowledgeable in their own households when it comes to how social media apps operate, there is still a lack of understanding about how decisions made online can impact their futures.

“We are aware that young people make poor decisions online in part because they’re not aware of the consequences or they can’t imagine the consequences can apply to them,” Meyers said.

“There’s aspects of social media that are a bit intransparent to them, so they don’t understand the way that invisible audiences exist for their media that they create, that they put out in open forums like Instagram or Facebook… and you can imagine that young people don’t realize the potential reach of some of their media.”

In Meyers’ field of work, this misunderstanding has been coined as “context collapse.”

“You think you are speaking to one particular audience but instead you are speaking to everybody,” Meyers said. “The norms and expectations you would have in a face-to-face interaction disappear.”

READ MORE: B.C. expert weighs in on why kids are eating Tide pods for fun

READ MORE: BC SPCA investigate Chilliwack youth blowing smoke in kitten’s face in videos

Meyers likened a dare like the urine drinking to other events that test a person’s limits, like a hot dog eating contest.

“We have things like hot dog eating contests which encourage people in a very social space to gorge themselves in a way which isn’t normal, however the gross aspect of it is something that is particularly a young person’s experiment for the most part,” he said.

“Young people have feelings of invincibility of infallibility, they are particularly susceptible to peer pressure and they can’t imagine that something horrible can happen to them. Part of it is gaining experience and developing a sense of what their limits are.”

But the platitude that “kids will be kids” is met with different concerns when it’s posted on the internet – a data-based system with the purpose of permanently documenting the information that runs through it, no matter how hard someone tries to remove regrettable material.

So what can parents do when it comes to helping the children in their lives navigate what they post online?

“One is the issue of dares and challenges,” Meyers said. “Parents can certainly play a role in talking to young people about what that means, what the possible consequences are of doing idiotic things like drinking something gross or doing something potentially harmful.”

Meanwhile, parents can bring greater awareness to what it means to be online with their children, Meyers said.

“What it means to engage in these online interactions that have a permanent nature or at least a semi-permanent nature that is often easily replicable… copied, duplicated and passed over multiple media channels.”

“It really is a continually evolving space, so we need to stay vigilant,” he added.


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

@PeeJayAitch
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

‘An extra $220 every 90 days’: B.C. patients pay more dispensing fees due to prescription limits

Kelowna woman says it’s outrageous to charge for refills every 30 days

Skeena Bulkley Valley MP calling for halt on sport fishing licenses to out-of-province fishers

Bachrach and Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns co-signed the letter to the Minister of Fisheries

Bella Coola Heli Sports closed, says no confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in their operation

The company has committed to informing the community if a case is reported

COVID-19 case confirmed at Subway restaurant in Cache Creek

Customers who visited the site from March 25 to 27 are asked to self-isolate

‘Better days will return’: Queen Elizabeth delivers message amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Queen said crisis reminds her of her first address during World War II in 1940

Emergency aid portal opens Monday, cash could be in bank accounts by end of week: Trudeau

Emergency benefit will provide $2,000 a month for those who have lost their income due to COVID-19

Education, not enforcement: B.C. bylaw officers keeping a watch on physical distancing

A kind word, it turns out, has usually been all people need to hear

COVID-19: Hospitals remain safe for childbirth, say Vancouver Island care providers

North Island Hospital has been asked to share its perinatal COVID-19 response plan

Canadian cadets to mark 103rd anniversary of Vimy Ridge April 9 virtually

Idea of Captain Billie Sheridan in Williams Lake, B.C. who wondered what to do in times of COVID-19

B.C. VIEWS: Pandemic shows need for adequate care home staffing

Seniors in B.C. care homes face challenging times

QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Take this test and find out how well you know Canada’s most popular winter sport

Most Read