According to recent news reports, a number of southern Alberta school boards have sent home letters about the Momo Challenge. This social media trend appears to target children — while they watch videos online. Reports suggest messages, including a creepy character, are embedded in online content posted on YouTube and other social media platforms with threats and challenges to perform dangerous tasks, which include self-harm. It is also reported the challenge appears to be a hoax, for the most part — an urban legend, if you will.
Urban legends and/or hoaxes, similar to the Momo Challenge, have been targeting young and old for decades. Many times these bizarre attempts at popularity begin as a harmless prank and/or stupid life choice by some individual or group of immature, not thinking things through — morons behind the anonymous nature of a computer screen and Internet connection (nowadays). Prior to the age of social media, word of mouth was the way urban legends/hoaxes were relayed to the masses. From hook-hand serial killers hiding in the backseat of a car to a murderous hitchhiker to razor blades and/or needles in Halloween candy to teenagers saying “Bloody Mary” three times in a bathroom mirror to “War of the Worlds” — oral stories have been passed down for generations and every generation had their very own unique lessons-learned warning tale.
Before social media junkies (which we all are) and entertainment addicts (guilty, once again) could binge anything and everything online on a plethora of devices, which are generally unregulated and/or mostly unchecked/uncensored — consumers had to get their fix by reading, listening to the radio, going to the theatre to see movies on the big screen, watch TV on television networks, and rent videos — all of which went through some sort of screening process. Today, Joe Blow from across the globe or next door can post copyrighted material with his/her additions without a blink of an eye and consumers watch it or allow children to navigate the waters of questionable posts, without concern. The Internet is indeed a wasteland of good and bad.
Something like Momo, which is also similar to its forefather/foremother Slenderman, is only as powerful as its popularity. All the recent media coverage helps the urban legend of Momo grow, but of course, the masses need to know about Momo’s bad mojo and harmful messages to help stop youth from getting hurt and/or worse. Many of today’s entertainment contains topics such as this — but, it’s the chicken or the egg notion all over again. Did yesterday’s pop culture create a Momo or will Momo create another pop culture sensation? Art imitates life and vice-versa.