On Sunday, daredevil Nik Wallenda completed his latest feat, walking a tightrope between buildings in downtown Chicago and, minutes later, walking another tightrope between buildings while wearing a blindfold. Wallenda set two world records, one for the steep incline of his first walk and the other for his blindfolded achievement. While Wallenda was doing his thing more than 500 feet above the Windy City, many viewers around the world were glued to their televisions but it also appeared just as many were busily typing up their play-by-play reactions on Twitter.
Before Wallenda attempted his latest walk, some wondered if he was in his right mind. Twitter user @sophiaz12 tweeted “WHY Does a guy have to risk his life for a tv show?? … blindfolded?? Smh (sic).” SMH stands for “Shaking my head.” Some Twitter users were still able to express their good wishes even if they did not understand the goal. Tweeter @ryanpoirier wished the daredevil good luck but added “Not sure why [people] do this.” More than one person anticipated the worst. @jwalkerjr hoped that Nik did not become a “Flying Wallenda” during his walk, adding “Seriously, why is this ok?”
As he walked, it seemed many viewers could not bring themselves to look at their television screens. With the hashtag #skyscraperlive, as well as the misspelled #skyscrapperlive that was actually trending, viewers seemed to look at their phones more than their televisions. @SuzyQsBread tweeted “Tell me when its safe to look. (sic)” One Twitter user @funnypreacher said “Can’t watch. I’m assuming he’s praying. Let me know me when Jesus shows up to either stop the wind or push him off.”
Others could not look away. Many likened the inability to look away from the stunt to that of a car accident or train wreck. It seemed to be a mass case of morbid curiosity across Twitter. @BrianMaxwell933 tweeted “This is amazing, like a train-wreck you can’t look away from!” Others were so curious, they admitted to letting work and other responsibilities fall by the wayside simply to see that Wallenda did not fall. @ksnow_13 said “Trying to write a paper but can’t look away from #SkyscraperLive.”
Others were torn. Perhaps @frogpajamas summed it up best, tweeting “I’m varying between yelling ‘I can’t watch this’ from under a blanket covering my eyes and staring at the screen.” This Twitter user appeared to capture most people’s reaction of wanting to look but being afraid to see something they might not want to see.
Many thought about what Wallenda’s family had to be going through as performed his latest stunt. @Kyle_Sielaff said “You have a wife and kids. Knock it off.” @Adam_Klug tweeted “How can [he] do this to his family? It’s irresponsible. I would never put my wife through something like this.” Others were more harsh as well as humorous. @lyndabrendish said “I would marry [him] just so I could divorce him in punishment for putting his wife and kids through this.” @billclarkFTB said “[His] wife is like the human embodiment of a fried nerve.” @SundayScaries tweeted “If Wallenda’s wife has any self respect, she’ll Gone Girl herself while he’s blindfolded on this wire.”
Some thought about the worst-case scenario. @meandmyhackers1 tweeted “[He] is about to become a bug on a windshield! Splat!” However, many other Twitter users offered prayers. @karenburns0707 tweeted “Praying for you …..may God keep you safe!” @kkmarjorie said “[He] is crazy, but I’m still praying for a safe walk.”
When he was finished, the congratulatory tweets poured in. @TaylorRene20 tweeted “I can’t even walk in a straight line on a sidewalk so congrats to Nik Wallenda on being able to do what he does.” Some acknowledged that Wallenda was carrying on the family business, as he hails from a long line of daredevils, with his great-grandfather Karl Wallenda having lost his life performing a similar stunt between two hotel buildings on a windy day in Puerto Rico at the age of 73 in 1978. @tucuwe said “Congratulations @NikWallenda and to your ancestors. Walk of a lifetime. Man that was cool grandfather love!!! (sic)”
However, some were not celebrating. @bengreenman tweeted “Next time [he] should blindfold everyone watching him.” The sentiment was shared many times over by those who simply could not understand Wallenda’s reason for wanting perform his latest feat. In the words of @burkedaniel on Twitter, “Not watching #SkyscraperLive because I’m trying to teach my kids not to make stupid decisions.”
While it seems everyone has an opinion on what Nik Wallenda does for a living, both on and off Twitter, Nik himself seems to take it in stride. He is aware of others’ reactions and has noted that while others may think he is crazy for doing what he does, he believes it is what he was born to do. And, the feat he achieved in Chicago on Sunday is only the latest notch on the daredevil’s belt. Reportedly, Nik Wallenda will be attempting a headstand during his next high-above-the-ground stunt. To this, Linda_Ivory tweeted, “His next goal is headstand on high wire! I want to make it through Christmas! Love #Wallenda.”
By Jennifer Fernicola Ronay
Photo by Dave Pape – Flickr License