As if the world today isn’t dangerous enough with the daily fighting against cyber criminals, anonymous predators, and the keyboard warrior type of cyber-bullying. Today, a huge resurgence of a “challenge” seeks to target kids and teenagers through a made-up dumb name like “Momo”. Really?
Really. The game began reaching infamy in July of 2018, on Facebook, where members were “challenged” to communicate with something named “Momo”. They begin to receive graphic threats from “Momo” and are then instructed to perform a series of dangerous tasks in order to meet this being, otherwise face threats of violence to the user, or urging them to commit suicide. It has also been reported that users are also sent graphic violent images.
What originally started out on Facebook, branched out to a popular messaging app called, WhatsApp. Users were invited to call “Momo”, which was an unknown number, authorities have since traced to locations in Japan, Mexico and Columbia.
The avatar used by “Momo” is an image of a woman with disturbingly exaggerated features, including bulging eyes. It originated from a 2016 sculpture named “Mama Bird” created by a special effects group called Link Factory and was recently featured in a display at an art gallery in Tokyo, Japan.
To me, it’s a bit reminiscent of Shelley Duvall’s character in Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining”.
Because of its grotesque appearance, the unknown creator of “Momo” decided to use the visage against unsuspecting kids. It is now apparently being embedded with subliminal suicide messages in YouTube videos for young children, including Peppa Pig and others, which has prompted scared parents, and somewhat celebrities, like Kim Kardashian, to voice their concerns to the authorities.
More and more reports have surfaced, causing panic and uproar on several social media’s, as an example the Police Service of Northern Ireland posted a public warning on Facebook to raise awareness of the alleged challenge this month. The Sun, a U.K. based newspaper, already reporting a 12-year-old girl from Argentina, who committed suicide reportedly linked to the challenge. Rumors of other deaths have come in to light, but authorities have not substantiated any of those claims.
Has the overuse of social media really broke down all forms of common sense? Urban Legends originates as a form of spooky storytelling that has a foreboding warning, or a humored anecdote. Mixed in with a bit of truth, a great storyteller would have their receptive audience believing every word. As the tale spreads, details become more elaborate, or changed to suit the territory. But word of mouth spread those tales worldwide and are still passed down to warn others to always check the backseat of their car before getting in, for example.
The phenomenon today, is spread though social media, and videos. This time with the advantage of seeing another person taking the “challenge”, today’s ‘sheeple’ must emulate, and try to out-do the last person in a sad, desperate attempt for attention. Problem being, over half of today’s so-called “challenges” are harmful, and absolutely have no point. Like many other digital-age urban legends, such as Slenderman, or Jeff the Killer; Momo has spread like wildfire due to the over worn “like” and “share” buttons that constantly get clicked by people. Whether it be for Social Media Fame, people that believe sharing will make their wishes come true, and those slightly unaware people that believe picture of Obi-Wan Kenobi, thinking it’s really an image of Jesus Christ.
In order to educate, and teach today’s youth, parents should oversee what their child is into. Is it necessary for children under teenage years to have their own, or be left alone with an Internet-free medium? If a parent so chooses, use parental locks. Check on your stubborn teen’s stuff. Chances are they’re up to no good anyway. But if they’re voluntarily chasing after contacting a being called “Momo”, you need to have a serious reset with your kid. Point is, use common sense. To quote President Abraham Lincoln, “Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet”.