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Lockdown Challenges: To keep boredom at bay
From bouncing ping-pong balls off pots and pans for the perfect #TrickShot to turning pillows into DIY dresses, here’s how people are staving off cabin fever while in lockdown
With the coronavirus continuing to upend familiar rhythms of life, leaving schools shuttered, millions out of work and billions stuck at home, those looking for ways to pass the time have gotten creative. In the absence of jam-packed calendars, people are turning to social media challenges in droves. Some bring together families for choreographed dance routines while others spark the inner artist or unlock hidden engineering skills. All of them hold the promise of warding off boredom and — maybe — earning users a moment of online celebrity. Here are some of the biggest challenges sweeping the world amid the lockdown.
In Australia, where lockdowns have halted nearly 30 years of economic growth, residents have begun dressing up as superheroes, Disney characters and sometimes dinosaurs to wheel the trash to the curb. A Facebook group called “Bin Isolation Outing,” which has quickly racked up nearly a million members, features photos and videos of residents dressing up for the usually mundane task.
“So basically the bin goes out more than us so let’s dress up for the occasion!” reads a description of the group. “Fancy dress, makeup, tutu … be creative. Post photos to cheer us up, after all, laughter is the best medicine.” The challenge has since spilled over onto Instagram and Twitter.
Early last month, the lyrics “I just flipped the switch” from the Drake song “Nonstop” inspired a viral challenge on TikTok that eventually made its way to Instagram. All over, people began swapping clothes, poses and sometimes attitudes when the lights are switched off and then back on. A version featuring Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kate McKinnon of “Saturday Night Live” went viral, as did a clip of Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez.
This challenge attracts creative fashionistas who aim to turn everyday pillows into striking quarantine couture, often using belts to fashionably fasten the pillows around their waists. The actresses Halle Berry, Tracee Ellis Ross and Anne Hathaway all participated in the craze.
The song “Don’t Rush” by the British hip-hop outfit Young T & Bugsey provided the backdrop for this challenge. In some videos, participants pass around a makeup brush like a wand that magically upgrades their look. One popular take featured New Orleans police officers passing around their hats while another video highlighted disabled women and men.
When boredom sets in, silly tasks are sometimes the most entertaining, as evidenced by the millions of TikTok, Instagram and Twitter videos posted with the hashtag #trickshot. The objective is to land the shot, no matter how many obstacles or how ridiculous the task. Some popular videos show Ping-Pong balls bouncing off pots and pans or going through complicated courses. Although Ping-Pong balls are commonly used, people have recorded their own #trickshot videos using basketballs, soccer balls and golf balls.
While the pandemic has shuttered most public institutions, museumgoers have shifted their focus online, where people are cleverly replicating famous artworks. Participants use toilet paper, food, old clothes and more to form a living archive of creativity in isolation. The Instagram account @tussenkunstenquarantaine collects and posts submissions from locked-down artists all over. Thousands of replicas appear under the hashtags #tussenkunstenquarantaine and #betweenartandquarantine. There’s also a Russian Facebook group called “Isolation” that features at-home replicas of sculptures, paintings and movie scenes.
Your First Move Is Their Last Move
This challenge turns family living rooms and kitchens into makeshift nightclubs, where everyone gets a turn on the dance floor. The conceit: Repeat the dance move from the person in front of you, then add your own twist for the person behind you to replicate. The “Your First Move Is Their Last Move” challenge is most popular on TikTok, where there are hundreds of thousands of videos.
Long hair to mehendi, Chennai teens create own challenges
When a lockdown is challenging, it’s time to be part of a ‘challenge’. Forced to remain home without the rigours of the school or the fun of a vacation, many teenagers have turned to social media to host and participate in ‘challenges’.
These could range from simple to strange, and everything in between. Take for instance the one that involves growing locks or even nails. The bigger and longer, the better. Girls, too, have joined the fray, showcasing their talent with mehendi design challenge.
Joseph Jayanth, a 17-year old Class 12 student from Pallavaram, refused to have his hair cut a couple of weeks ago when his parents thought of getting a local barber to come home.
“Initially, I thought my son was afraid of getting a haircut due to risk of coronavirus infection. However, later I came to know that he was participating in the ‘growing locks challenge’ on social media,” said his mother Dafney.
Joseph explained that the challenge helps keep him busy. “How long we can sit idle and keep engaged by only online studies? These small, unique contests through WhatsApp videos diverts my mind,” he said. This perhaps is the reason while Dafney is also happy that her son is active despite her misgivings about social media challenges.
In the case of T Bhuvaneshkumar, a Class 11 student from Nungambakkam, the challenge is not only unique but also has a hint of rebellion. During the pre-lockdown days, his school had made it mandatory that all students had to cut their nails on Sundays.
“Just for a change during this long holiday period, I let my nails grow,” he said. That took off within his circle almost instantly. “After seeing that, my friends too started letting their nails grow and thus the challenge emerged,” said the boy.
Girls are not far behind in taking up challenges on social media. One which has had a large number of them hooked on is flaunting their mehendi design skills.
“Our challenge is very simple. Every member in the group should upload photos of mehendi patterns they made on their palms once in two days,” said S Hemalatha, a Class 9 student from Pammal. The mehendi challenge WhatsApp group that she is part of has about 50 members, she added.
Similar is the hairstyling challenge. “Here, the challenge is to showcase as many hairstyles as possible in 10 days,” M Shalini, a city-based student studying in Class 12, said.
Parents, meanwhile, are understandably eager for the lockdown to get over. “Lifting the lockdown will provide relief not only for us but also for the children, who will be back to their regular business,” said D Vijayalakshmi, a homemaker from Kodambakkam.