The Out-of-Touch Adults’ Guide To Kid Culture: What’s the Thick Water Challenge?

The Out-of-Touch Adults’ Guide To Kid Culture: What’s the Thick Water Challenge?

This week’s out-of-touch guide takes us everywhere from obsessed Minecraft inventors, septuagenarian viral sensations, and even deep-fried water.

The senior citizens of TikTok

TikTok is a young person’s game — only about 4% of its 98 million users in the U.S. are over 55 — but that hasn’t stopped some older go-getters from going viral and gaining millions of mostly young followers. Here are some of the fossils kids are crazy about.

Charles Mallet: The king of assisted-living TikTok, Charles Mallet has nearly five million followers. While many of his videos are cringey “watch the old dude try to meme” material, his most-viewed videos by far are tear-jerking tributes to his dead son.

Old Man Steve: The name pretty much says it all: This is an old man named Steve. He’s gained a million and a half followers doing old-man-stuff like eating toast, wearing a dumb hat and doing a magic trick, showing you old pictures, and, letting you know he’s still alive. Like the best old people, Steve is so friendly it’s unsettling.

Grandma Droniak: If you like your old people cranky, check out Grandma Droniak. The wizened woman is delightfully grumpy and yelly, and really shines when she’s sassing her commenters. She has her own line of merch and over two million followers. That’s a lot of sassin’!

Piano Grandad: Alan M (AKA Piano Grandad) is my favourite geriatric TikToker. He doesn’t pander. He doesn’t do the whole “look at me, I’m old!” schtick. This 85-year-old grandfather of 19 is dignified. He plays classical piano, raises money for cancer research, and can still jitterbug like an ace. Dude has a harp in his music room. Life goals, man, life goals.

Young people ruin water

Piano Grandad spent his youth learning Chopin while dodging Hitler’s buzzbombs. Today’s kids are ruining water.

First, there’s the “thick water challenge.” In it, kids purchase a water thickener at their local Rite-Aid, mix up some thick water, and tell you how gross it is. Harmless fun, right? Except thick water is a medical product used by people who have trouble swallowing. You know, so they don’t die.

The virility of the challenge (and maybe COVID supply chain issues) has reportedly led to shortages of the product. The TikTokers likely didn’t think it through, so it’s not their fault exactly, but still, there’s no need for store-bought water-thickeners. Just add gelatin to your Evian if you want to gross yourself out.

Then there’s “deep-fried water.” The invention of YouTuber Jonathan Marcus, deep-fried water is made by mixing calcium alginate with H2O until you get an edible gelatinous ball. Then you roll it in some breadcrumbs and stick it in the deep fryer. Mmmm… Delicious! Eating the tasteless concoction is likely harmless, but making it could be dangerous. Dropping water into a deep fryer is a very bad idea, even if it’s gelatinous and breaded. If you do it wrong (and you will), it’ll explode and spatter your face with boiling oil…although that the video would probably go viral and will provide little comfort.

Khloe Kardashian bikini photo drama

A shocking picture of Khloe Kardashian in a bikini hit the internet this week, and the entire Kardashian family business is freaking the hell out. They’re calling in lawyers and sending takedown notices to basically everyone. Twitter is scrubbing the photo. So is Instagram. The Kardashian Clan wants this picture disappeared.

What’s so shocking about the forbidden photo? Well, Khloe isn’t wearing makeup and the pic isn’t touched up. Apparently, the picture was snapped by either an assistant or Khloe’s grandmother, and was posted without permission.

Twitter users have pointed out the hypocrisy in the company taking down a famous person’s photo while abusive speech and death threats remain up, and also pointed out that Khloe looks good in the snapshot anyway. But I think they’re missing the bigger picture. I think the Kardashians want you to see the photo, and they created controversy to make you do it. You know you’re going to google it.

This week in video games: Lil Nas X releases “Twerk Hero”

Last week, rapper/singer/provocateur Lil Nas X dominated the entire world with his controversial new sneakers and the Satan-themed video for his single “Montero,” but he seemed to have missed a trick: There was no video game tie-in. That error has been corrected this week with the release of Twerk Hero, an in-browser rhythm game in which you control Lil Nas X’s buttocks. You shake Nas’s money-maker at projectiles, advancing in levels until you meet the devil himself. Your life will probably be just fine if you never play this game, but the video Nas posted on Twitter is kind of funny.  

Viral video of the week: Mind-blowing Minecraft inventions

I can’t say enough good things about Minecraft. It’s the best video game of all time. It entertains all kinds of gamers, from casuals who want to shoot a few skeletons on their lunch break, to the kinds of totally obsessed and brilliant inventors featured in this week’s viral video.

Sipover’s Minecraft’s Most Mind-Blowing Inventions shows off complex fan-created devices like a terrifying strip mining machine that chops up thousands of blocks at a time, a flying bomber plane that drops tons of TNT, and a machine that breaks the game itself, crashing any server it runs on. Sadly, my kid and his friends’ invention, “Pee and Poo Man,” a gargantuan statue that continually spews out realistic looking pee and poo, did not make the cut.

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