Some college students taking online classes during the coronavirus pandemic are pulling “kidnapping” pranks to shock their teachers and peers.
The pranks, examples of which are documented on the TikTok account Zoomnappers, go down like this: During class, kids posing as masked intruders barge into the “victim’s” room, tackle him or her and carry them off camera, leaving the rest of the class puzzled.
Benjamin Tate Holley and Benton Willis, who are freshmen roommates at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., agreed to kidnap each other during their first semester classes after seeing a similar video online. While Holley sat in his Cultural Perspectives course, Willis and another friend stormed in, placed him in a chokehold and carried him out of the room. “Oh my gosh — Benjamin has just been removed by his roommates,” says his professor in the video with 7.2 million likes on TikTok.
Holley tells Yahoo Life that after the “abduction,” he waited several minutes before returning to class. “[We did] it just to make people laugh,” he says. Representatives from Samford University did not immediately reply to Yahoo Life’s requests for comment.
The following day, Holley seized Willis during his Communication Arts class. The video, with more than 67,000 likes, shows Willis discussing space exploration when Holley and a friend storm in, throw a pillowcase over his head and force him from the room. Willis tells Yahoo Life that the prank went unacknowledged by his professor.
Another video shot during an English class at Millikin University in Decatur, Ill., features a student named Tyler being snatched from his seat and dragged away by two hooded men.
“Did you guys just see Tyler get kidnapped?” Professor Michael Hollis-George asks his class in the footage. “Do we need to call the police?”
Hollis-George tells Yahoo Life he became suspicious when detecting a smile on Tyler’s face right before he was grabbed. “I wanted to give it a few minutes to make sure [it was a prank],” he says adding that Tyler re-entered the room shortly afterward. However, the teacher had a good sense of humor. “I remember sitting through my own freshman writing class and in a remote environment, it gets tense for kids,” says Hollis-George. “Any way to help lighten the mood is great.”
In a second video posted by Tyler and his friends who posed as the kidnappers, he says in a caption, “I’m alright. Thanks for all the love.”
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