Warning: you’re about to read about some dumb, self-inflicted injury. If watching people jump off roofs and hurting themselves disturbs you, I do not recommend scrolling any further.
The least surprising thing about the trend of jumping off roofs for the ‘gram is that it’s Western University students leading the charge. If you’ve ever wanted to see huge crowds cheer on chino-wearing business students as gravity teaches them a lesson, look no further than the Instagram account @canadianpartylife.
This social media trend has been going on for more than a year and has reportedly resulted in at least one serious hospitalization. It seems especially prevalent at unofficial homecoming parties, or “fake homecoming” as they say in London, Ontario.
Two years ago Western University decided to move all of its sanctioned homecoming events several weeks later into October, in a futile effort to crack down on “illegal” street parties. Apparently police and school officials thought colder weather and the pressure of midterms would discourage the kinds of sloppy drunk “hoco” misadventure Western is known for, and instead encourage “safer forms of entertainment.”
But the date change didn’t stop students looking for any reason to get wasted in public, and thus the “foco” street party was born. This year’s swelled to 20,000 people, with 57 of them taken to hospital.
As you can probably imagine, these are all-day mobs of face-painted edgelords blacking out and puking onto every available surface—especially rooftops. When London’s city council tried to ban rooftop drinking in 2017, students reacted by getting more drunk and finding even more precariously steep roofs to shotgun beers on. The lesson: you can’t outlaw self-destruction.
Now that you have the backstory, let’s get back to the roof jumping. In what seems like an unexpected escalation of these “don’t tell me what to do” shenanigans, students started filming themselves leaping off roofs onto flip cup tables strewn with solo cups.
In some of the videos the dudes bounce back and limp into the crowd to bask in their own stupid glory. In others they only manage to roll a few feet away from the table before going limp. At least one guy manages to pull off a backflip. Western’s 2017 “foco” party produced a bunch of these clips, and while there are fewer receipts from this year, we know at least one person was hospitalized for serious injuries after jumping off a roof at fake homecoming.
Local reporters picked up on the roof jumping story earlier this month, essentially warning parents their child could be involved in the dangerous party culture known as “brewfing.” (I have yet to hear anyone actually call rooftop drinking this, and I refuse to concede that anyone who hasn’t reached middle age ever will.) Regardless of the terminology, @canadianpartylife continues to post videos in this vein, the most recent being an October 23 post of a Queens student taking an accidental tumble off a roof.
"It's a decently common thing. It's a party thing," Western student Dylan White told CBC. "There'll be tables that'll be in backyards, and people jump off the roof and land and break the table. It's a huge social media thing."
These clips and their popularity among students raise some questions about how social media algorithms might encourage really dumb, reckless behaviour. There are endless cautionary tales about young people falling off cliffs, getting mauled by bears, or getting hit by trains in pursuit of the perfect Instagram post. This seems to be backed up by a recent study that found more than 250 people have died while taking selfies. There’s even an earnest #SelfieToDieFor hashtag trying to educate young people about the risks associated with this kind of social media thirst.
Whether it’s for the ‘gram or not, London’s city council says the trend is “unacceptable” and “will lead to a fatality.” Politicians may not understand it, and they may not be able to stop it, but they’re probably right on that last point?
Follow Sarah Berman on Twitter.
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