To some people's delight, and other people's abject horror, extraction videos have become an internet phenomenon. Whether you like them or not, videos of pimples popping, blackheads emerging, and ingrown hairs being yanked from anonymous swaths of flesh now fill our social media feeds, and it seems that may be just the beginning. The latest type of extraction videos to gain popularity are tonsil stone removals, clips which answer a resounding no to the question: "Is there nothing so disgusting and horrendous humans won't watch and share it on Facebook?"
Tonsil stones, also known as tonsilloliths, are build ups of bacterial and cell debris that form in the back of your throat. They are mostly harmless, though they do cause bad breath, so be grateful the below video doesn't come with Smell-o-vision, I guess.
Why are we so drawn to these videos? "It's the same kind of thrill people get from, say, riding a roller coaster or bungee jumping — it activates the experience the typically comes with a real kind of danger while actually being protected from the harmful effects typically associated with those situations," Daniel Kelly, an assistant professor of philosophy at Purdue University, and author of Yuck!: The Nature and Moral Significance of Disgust, told Cosmopolitan.
And watching these videos does feel dangerous. When I watch them, for example, I feel in danger of projectile vomiting on my shoes, or of having all of my skin peel away and escape in horror until I look like one of those people from the Bodies exhibit, or simply evaporating into nothingness, my soul floating untethered through the air, desperate to find a flesh home where it will not be subjected to watching such vile, up-close medical procedures. (Truth be told, I would take hurling my body off of a rocky cliff with a flimsy cord tied around my waist over watching a Dr. Pimple Popper video any day.)
But besides the thrill, Kelly also told Salon that the disgust we feel actually serves an important biological purpose. "Disgust is a psychological component to this arsenal of protective weaponry,” he said. “Instead of waiting until something gets into our system that we have to fight to push out, disgust helps us to stay away from objects and people that are likely to get us sick.”
In other words, being grossed out by something means we'll be more likely to take steps to avoid it in the future — like muting all of our friends on Facebook who keep sharing videos of monster ingrown hairs being pulled out by tweezers. Sorry, Chad. It's just biology.
And for some, the experience of watching extraction videos can even be relaxing. "For many, I think there is an enormous feeling of satisfaction or resolution when they watch blackheads being extracted or pimples being popped," Dr. Sandra Lee, also known as Dr. Pimple Popper, told BuzzFeed News. "And who doesn’t want to feel good and relaxed?"
Great question, Dr. Popper. I love feeling good and relaxed! Which is why I'll be extracting myself from any room with extraction videos. Ha ha ha. Ugh, I'm sorry. That was awful and uncalled for. Here, to make up for it I'll give you all a bunch of other gross videos to watch.
Enjoy, I guess.