A TikTok user’s unsettling experiment is exposing just how easy it is for bad actors to slip unwanted additives into your beverage — even if you’re holding the glass.
When given a coaster at a bar, your first instinct is likely to place it under your drink to stop the glass from damaging the table beneath it. However, as Mel Hall explains in a now-viral TikTok series, a better place for that coaster is directly over the mouth of your cup, a method she suggests using to stop a potential drugging from taking place.
“Let’s be real, the dive bar you’re going to doesn’t need that extra layer of protection between the condensation from your glass and the table,” she notes in an Aug. 22 video. “That table is trash.”
In a follow-up video, Hall re-upped on her potentially life-saving advice by demonstrating how simple it is for someone to spike a drink with substances like roofies, the “date rape drug,” right in front of your nose.
Using popcorn kernels as a stand-in for the illicit substance, Hall successfully sneaks five kernels into a glass of water in under 2 minutes.
Her moves are extremely difficult to spot, even when staring right at her hands.
The 27-year-old Toronto resident, who works as a bilingual stage manager and production manager for theatre and live events, told In The Know she decided to post her PSA after seeing a new TikTok trend where people pretend to guard drinks for their friends at bars while they use the bathroom.
Hall made her own version of the social responsibility trend, in which she places a coaster on top of the drink she is asked to guard before staring down an imagined predator.
Hall says she received a few comments from people who said they believed using coasters to cover a drink to prevent it from being drugged was “paranoid or unnecessary.” In response, she made another video to clarify why the technique can be useful.
“I put a coaster over top of my glass when I’m at a bar… to stop someone from slipping something into my drink without me noticing,” she said. “Because it’s so easy and it happens so fast, to just drop this tiny little dissolvable, flavorless pill into a drink.”
“It can happen when it’s getting passed over the bar to you, it can happen when you’re walking to your table, it can happen when you’re sitting with your friends with your drink in front of you with. A coaster will give you full coverage.”
“Most likely, you’re going to notice someone moving a coaster off of your drink in order to drop something in, ’cause you’re adding that additional motion for them, you’re not making it so easy,” she added.
Still, people were not convinced.
“How can I not notice it … if ur holding the drink???” one user commented on the video. “I know to never leave the drink unattended, but this makes no sense.”
The misinformed remark spurred Hall to demonstrate the process in her now-viral popcorn kernel TikTok.
“I decided the best way to respond and explain the risk was with a video. I thought a visual would be more impactful,” she told In The Know. “So, I searched my kitchen for something pill-sized (popcorn kernels) and got to work. I read the comment, made the video and posted it all within about 15 or 20 minutes. It was very much spur of the moment, I never expected it to go viral!”
Hall’s series has apparently had quite an impact on the TikTok community. Aside from generating millions of views, her videos have racked up “countless” comments from people “sharing their stories about times when either something has been slipped into their drink or that of a friend,” according to Hall.
“In the comments, we’re having conversations, educating and supporting each other,” she said. “Some of those people have shared how they felt ashamed after being drugged. They felt stupid for not having been careful enough and wondered where they went wrong.”
“We cover our drinks and take all of these precautions for survival but, whether you covered your drink or left it at your table when you went to the bathroom, that shouldn’t have happened to you,” she added. “You’re not alone, and you’re not to blame.”
On the converse, Hall says she’s seen a few people take exception to her videos, with some even accusing her of “creating a tutorial” on how to drug someone with her popcorn experiment. Of course, that is not her intention, and Hall says people who have that concern are likely just “not seeing the bigger picture.”
“Yes, some people have bad intentions. Dangerous, predatory intentions which, I believe, they would have had whether or not my video appeared on their feed,” she explained. “We need to take a step back and remember all of the people who are now going to be more vigilant and build safer habits for themselves after seeing this video.”
Negative feedback aside, Hall says that if even one person walks away from her videos having made the conscious decision to be more vigilant and build safer habits, it will have been worth the effort.
“To my surprise, it looks like millions of people are going to re-evaluate how they protect themselves and those around them!” she said. “That progress outweighs the possibility of it giving a handful of those viewers some unintentional ‘inspiration.'”
And for those who may feel spooked from ever going out again, Hall shared one simple message — don’t be. Just pay attention.
“A lot of people’s gut reaction after seeing my video is: I’m scared and I’m never going out drinking again,” she told In The Know. “I want them to know that my intention when I made this video wasn’t to scare people into never going out. Don’t be scared. Be vigilant.”
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