You know that crackling, snapping sound you hear in your ears when you yawn? When I was a kid in middle school, the other kids were always trying to come up with medical-sounding, crazy ways to explain normal things a body does. And everything you did seemed to cause brain cells to die, because that was the worst thing imaginable. For a while everyone was saying that when your jaw cracks, what you’re actually hearing is the sound of your brain cells exploding. Which was super bizarre and frightening. I think they knew that wasn’t true, but we all started freaking out about it.
This explanation the kids created to explain the sound their cracking jaw made, seems like an idea kids would tell other kids to scare them like they had been scared. These frightened children would then tell their parents, who would tell them this wasn’t true. This led to a cycle of initiation, as kids scared their peers with this pseudo-medial knowledge for status. As middle school kids are often told it’s important they develop their brains, and take drug education courses focusing on how drugs negatively impact their brain’s development, it seems natural that at this age there would be so much fear that they could be causing their precious brain cells to explode.