It is an unusually hot day in western Ontario with temperatures well into the 30s. As the heat and humidity intensify, the blue sky becomes a hazy grey. Cumulonimbus clouds are forming, the grey haze becomes darker with green and violet tones. A severe thunderstorm warning sounds on 16-year-old Jacob Lanstrum’s phone. He eagerly rushes outside, drops a gym mat onto the ground, and proceeds to raise a three metre metal pole into the air. Just minutes into the storm, a bolt of lightning strikes Jacob. He is still and barely breathing, but he is alive. When he regains consciousness, he delicately shows us a thumbs-up.
In a trend known on social media as “Thoring” or “Charging Up” and even “Getting Zeused,” teens all over the nation are going outside in severe weather and are deliberately being struck by lightning in order to get high.
“I started off sticking forks into electrical sockets, and that just wasn’t cutting it for me anymore,” said Jacob a few hours after coming down from the shock. “Then I saw these guys on TikTok holding up pool skimmers during a storm and talking about how it was just an unbelievable high, like touching the toes of God.”
We talked with Jacob about his experience.
“You don’t realize it until you’re already on the ground,” he said regarding the strike and similar jolts he has experienced since he began Thoring in late May of 2020. “There’s a loud bang inside your head, then it’s just euphoria, like all your fears disappearing, and you’re surrounded by a purely loving light. It lasts for a few minutes before I come to again.”
The trend has caused concern amongst parents as many teens who step outside “for a charge,” are often killed outright. In the past six weeks 379 young people, all between the ages of twelve and twenty three, were killed across Ontario while seeking the elusive high of lightning. Nationwide, at least 2,673 people have been killed while Thoring.
“Yeah, I know it’s a risk, but that’s why I stand on the gym mat. My friend Trent says it’ll definitely probably stop the bolt from hurting you and they’re pretty easy to buy online or steal from a local yoga studio while they’re locked down in quarantine.”
Like many of his peers, Jacob is addicted to the high that comes with a lightning strike.
“I know it’s an issue, and I’ve tried to quit several times,” he continued. “But my parents just think I’m a freak following some stupid online fad; they don’t realize this is a very real issue.”
During the interview, another severe storm warning was broadcast and Jacob ran outside to seek yet another charge. After this strike, all that remained of the teenager were a pair of Doc Martins and a scorched flannel shirt.