Every day, teenagers give me a new reason to be grateful that social media was in its infancy when I was their age. Back in my day, if kids wanted to rub soy sauce on their balls and eat all the detergent, they’d do it to amuse each other in private, not in front of an audience of millions. But now, kids who spend a week and a half drinking nothing but blue food coloring to get their pee to change color can quickly prompt newspapers to issue warnings and make everybody freak the hell out.
Canadian social media star Colton Macaulay went viral earlier this month as he attempted to live his dream of peeing like a Smurf. “From what I’ve read online, by the fifth day the color of my pee will be blue,” Colty explained on day one. The only liquid he would drink during the challenge would be water, and at least one vial of supermarket-grade blue food coloring. Had Colty consulted a professional, like me, he would have known that for a brighter blue urine, he should have used gel paste food coloring, as the stuff in the supermarket is quite diluted and will never give you those vivid hues you’re looking for.
Macaulay posted daily check-ins so his riveted fanbase could track his progress, and on day eight, TikTok added a disclaimer to his post: “The action in this video could result in serious injury.” By day nine, Macaulay announced, proudly and blue-mouthedly, that he had succeeded in turning both his pee and his poop blue, and claimed his skin was beginning to turn blue as well. As “proof,” he posted the update shirtless.
Macaulay ended the challenge on day 11, when, in a final video, he announced his friend would be doing the same thing, but with green food dye. As TikTok did not post any sort of disclaimer on that video (or any of the videos outside of day eight), there’s a chance that consuming food coloring in this volume is safe. Maybe. But a college kid and a social media platform’s content moderation team are not the sources we prefer to put our faith in here. Parents, you might want to sit your kids down and have a frank talk about the dangers of doing shots of food coloring for internet stardom. And pursuing internet stardom in general.