The internet will not be the internet without its cringe-worthy content. In the past few years, a breed of short, bright, and colorful videos have added to this category: life hacks.
These are videos containing unique ways on how to make life easier–in theory. For example, cutting a chunk of hair and gluing it on a pencil will make a makeup brush. You know, in case you forget to bring one, and you’re not at home. They make it appear like what you’ll learn from them is a handy skill. It saves a lot of time, money, and effort when in fact, it’s just easier to do things as normal people do.
These videos are often sped up, skipping a lot of steps in the process of making something. This caters to the short attention span of people these days. In retrospect, it’s a trick to make it appear that the “hack” works. A life hack for making a pair of white sneakers appear brand new had a noticeable error: the before and after shoe sizes went from 39 to 40.
Life hack videos rely on the power of clickbait. The thumbnails are usually an intriguing object the audience will never see in the video. The title would contain “DIY”, “easy”, or “hacks”, or something entirely different from its contents.
Their production quality is one thing, and their trustworthiness is another. Because these videos are mass-produced, there’s usually no research involved. As a result, some of these hacks cause real threats. There’s no way bleached strawberries are edible. Household items may be within your reach, but the microwave has some restrictions. Lemons, too, are not an all-around remedy for skin or whitening problems.
It’s Better to Seek a Professional
There are health problems that these videos address once in a while. The problem is that they’re rarely approved by a professional. Sure, there’s a chance that some of them will work, but it could be a risk.
A popular subject for these life hacks is dental problems. When toothpaste and mouth-washing don’t do their jobs, acidic fruits and baking soda can take their place. While there are studies that both ingredients are beneficial to the teeth individually, the two working together is a little shaky. It’s not guaranteed that the acid from the lemon is neutralized by the basic baking soda.
Seeking professional help will always be safer than DIYs from the internet. They can cause potential dangers. Surgeries and dental implants, for example, requie extra care to avoid infections. Dentists have special steps to take care of these, and baking soda-plus-lemon formula may not be part of these steps.
Take Them With a Grain of Salt
Producers of life hack videos may not exert the means to research their content, but the audience can. The audience is the ones who will be harmed because of these videos, so it’s best to take life hacks with a grain of salt.
The first step is common sense. Food + cleaning agents = unsafe. Styrofoam, eggs, paper bags should stay out of the microwave. Anything combustible should be away from fire. The internet is great, but not everything in it is smart and right.
Second, use Google. A simple Google search gives a plethora of answers. It’s best to look for academic papers because they fully explain the situation. Aside from academic sources, trustworthy medical websites such as WebMD and Healthline can provide adequate information about the hack.
Third, look for professionals who publish articles and videos to debunk these hacks. How To Cook That by Ann Reardon, a food scientist, is a YouTube channel that shows the fakeness of life hack videos. She tries them out, explains why they don’t work, and shows the outcome to the viewers. Through this, viewers can actually see it for themselves without having to try it at home. This saves them a few extra bucks, time, and trouble.
Life Can Still Be Easier
Even without these life hacks, life can still go on. Manufacturers have made life easier by selling ready-made products. Instead of creating a makeup brush out of pencil, human hair, and glue, a person can just buy an actual makeup brush over-the-counter. There are also medically-approved teeth whiteners in pharmacies. Cleaning agents specially made for sneakers are also available in local online stores or shoe stores.
In the kitchen, it’s safer to do things the traditional way. A boiled egg needs to be boiled. Cakes need to be baked. Maybe sticking to grandparents’ recipes would have more chances of success.
Life hack videos are a reminder that not everything on the internet is true. Some of them need some reassessing or going back to basic science lessons.