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

White Rock’s top cop calls for ‘healthcare led intervention model’

Review aims for better understanding of crime related to mental health, substance use

Surrey man found guilty in West Kelowna killing of common-law spouse

Tejwant Danjou was convicted of second-degree murder in the July 2018 death of Rama Gauravarapu in West Kelowna

New collective debuts with Crescent Beach show

Nela Hallwas and Lyn Verra-Lay team for ‘Flow’

Former students’ mural showcasing Delta elementary school’s new logo on hold, for now

Ashriya and Karam Purewal painted the spirit logo last spring; formal logo mural delayed due to COVID

Police ask for help to identify suspect in alleged Surrey break-and-enter

Surrey RCMP say two men ‘kicked down the front door’ of the home

578 British Columbians currently infected with COVID-19

Seventy-eight new cases confirmed in past 24 hours

Conservation seizes fawn illegally kept captive in Vancouver Island home

A Comox Valley resident charged and fined under the Wildlife Act

Pandemic could be driving more parents to get on board with flu shot: study

University of B.C. study gauges willingness for parents to vaccinate children for influenza

Watchdog clears Okanagan RCMP in death of man after arrest over alleged stolen pizzas

The man died in hospital after having difficulty breathing and broken ribs

35,000 doses of fentanyl part of huge Maple Ridge bust

Largest seizure in RCMP detachment’s history included submachine gun, body armour

Have you seen Berleen? B.C. pig destined for sanctuary goes missing

Berleen was less than two weeks from travelling to Manitoba when she vanished

Health Canada says several kids hospitalized after eating edible pot products

People warned not to store cannabis products where children can find them

‘It’s not just about me’: McKenna cites need to protect politicians from threats

Police investigation was launched after someone yelled obscenities at a member of McKenna’s staff

Michigan plans dedicated road lanes for autonomous vehicles

First study of its kind in the U.S. to figure out whether existing lanes or shoulders could be used

Most Read