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That did not go well.
Japanese memes are all about the physical comedy, whether it’s floating in the air, staging a Street Fighter hadoken, or putting school desks on the wall instead of the floor. The latest comedic stunt to captivate the Japanese internet is stepping onto a treadmill at 25 kilometers an hour. That’s nearly 16 mph, which is close to the fastest speed an average person can run. Needless to stay, trying to accelerate to 15 mph from a standing position is not a great idea.
— ふかやだいき (@LovesFutsal) March 14, 2018
It went terribly for this man, and now his pants-stripping fall has been seen more than 3.5 million times. Imitators soon followed, although not very many of them.
— 新垣 元 (@ShingakiGen1202) March 15, 2018
And they very much regretted trying this challenge in shorts:
— 河合 健心朗 (@kkenshiro1) March 16, 2018
Others stood by on the sidelines, politely offering advice:
— チンネン (@tinnen0219) March 16, 2018
“Excuse me for replying to someone who doesn’t follow me, but it is recommended that the average person does not do the running machine at this speed. The speed of the record level of Japan 1500m is 25 kilometers an hour, so please do it slowly because it might lead to a big accident if you suddenly ride. I am glad that it did not lead to a big injury this time,” is Twitter’s machine English translation of the above tweet.
Solid advice, even if it was a little too late to save @LovesFutsal.
Others just laughed, calling the treadmill a “semi-automatic pants-lowering machine” and posting “grass” and “w,” the Japanese equivalents of “lol.”
This treadmill thing is still limited to one popular video, and despite getting plenty of coverage on Japanese news sites and social media, it hasn’t risen to the level of a “challenge.” The reason seems obvious: intentionally falling off a treadmill looks painful and stupid. But that hasn’t stopped American teens from imitating the hazardous things they see online—just look at the stats on intentional Tide Pod ingestion.
We could all take a lesson here in meme-ing responsibly and sticking to original content. That way, only one person has to lose his pants.
Jay Hathaway is a former senior writer who specialized in internet memes and weird online culture. He previously served as the Daily Dot’s news editor, was a staff writer at Gawker, and edited the classic websites Urlesque and Download Squad. His work has also appeared on nymag.com, suicidegirls.com, and the Morning News.