“So, if all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?” I don’t really remember my mother ever saying that to me when I was a kid, but that’s probably because either (1) I didn’t want to do anything infinitely stupid or (2) I have selective memory. But certainly your mother, at one time or another, chided you for wanting to do something that everyone else on the planet (well, anyone you cared about) was already doing.

You remember, “But Mom, everybody is shaving their heads and painting their scalps bright orange! You’ve got to let me do it too. You wouldn’t want me to be the only one at school with (ick) hair on her head!” Then Mom would whip out the standard issue block to keep you from doing something that was silly, and in fact, only one other person was doing it, but everyone was talking about doing it (and most certainly were blocked by their mother with this same line.) “If all your friends were going to jump off a cliff, would you do that too?” Sure, there were variations. “If all your friends were lining up to have someone punch them in the face, would you be lined up with them?”

These days, we may have a fad that would defy Mom and her canned advice. If you have a computer, know how to turn it on, and belong to a social networking site like, say, Facebook, you’ve seen it. There’s no way you could have missed it. It’s called the Cold Water Challenge. The way it works is, someone challenges friends to the Cold Water Challenge, then within 24 hours this person must jump into a cold body of water, make a video of the jump, and post it to the social media site. If you chicken out, you pay money to charity.

At the beginning of your video of you jumping in, you challenge a series of your own friend, thus guaranteeing that the madness will continue. It’s like a video chain letter. Only there are a few issues. For one, the activity has to be one that people consider possible and enjoyable. That’s why there is no Golf Club to the Groin Challenge or Chainsaw Juggling Challenge. But the main issue for the Cold Water Challenge is that since it’s not exactly beach season, some people forget what they are doing and jump into a body of water thinking there is no danger.

In summertime, we remember a little something about diving safety and we don’t dive headfirst into water when the bottom could be much shallower than it should be. It’s like driving during the first snowstorm of the winter; we have to get our mind in the proper place. In this challenge, a few have been so worried about the shock of the cold water, that the rest of their common sense has also been placed on hiatus.

In Michigan last weekend, a 32-year-old father dived into Grey Lake and hit his head on the bottom. He suffered three fractures to his neck and is now paralyzed from the waist down. Hopefully, he will return to full health soon, and fortunately there was someone there watching who wasn’t holding a camera who jumped in and pulled him out of the cold water. That person was the real hero. Hats off to her.

She told a reporter that she had been out at the lake for two hours that Wednesday and had seen 17 people jump into the water for their part in the challenge. Did you get that, 17 of them! But again, my hat is off for Dee-Dee Taylor who jumped into the ice cold water, not to avoid giving to charity, but to save a life.

Of the nearly 100 such videos I personally have seen posted on Facebook, I have a favorite. After hearing about Dee-Dee’s brave exploit, I’ll make this one the number two favorite. I don’t know who it was, but it was a boy who appeared to be around 18, wearing a t-shirt and a swim suit. The boy was standing on a grassy hill with some things in the background, I wasn’t really paying close attention to be honest. After the preliminary speech about who had challenged him, he said something like, “Here I go!”

He then did a type of back flip and landed in the grass behind him, right beside what looked like a road sign. I looked closer, and it was a road sign. Checking the surroundings again, the boy was standing on the outskirts of a little town, and the sign said something like, “Welcome to Coldwater.” I gave the boy a standing ovation because technically he did not cheat. He had jumped into Coldwater and didn’t even need to dry off. And nobody needed to pull him out. He gets second place. Dee-Dee Taylor wins.

As for the rest of you, if you have done this, I hope you still made a donation or two to charity, and if you haven’t, remember if all your friends are jumping into coldwater, and you think you have to do it too, please be careful. And take someone along who isn’t holding the camera… just in case.