MacBaynes

Wizard of Western New York. 

The Problem with MOMO

Written by Daniel MacBayne

October 24, 2023

Once upon a time, back in 2018, an eerie figure with bulging eyes and a distorted grin started circulating on the internet, freaking people out far and wide. They called her “Momo,” but let’s get one thing straight: the sculpture that inspired the Momo image was actually called “Mother Bird,” made by a Japanese artist named Keisuke Aisawa. The thing was never meant to scare the pants off people; it was just art. But you know how the internet works; they see something creepy and go, “Yep, that’s our new nightmare fuel.”

The whole Momo Challenge thing spun out of control real quick. It was this “game” where people claimed that Momo would message you on WhatsApp, daring you to do increasingly dangerous stuff, like, you know, self-harm or worse. Media went bananas over it. But here’s the kicker: there’s no definitive evidence that the Momo Challenge was ever a widespread or organized phenomenon. Sure, some people probably pranked their friends or messed around, but most experts chalk it up to mass hysteria or moral panic.

That said, even if the Momo Challenge itself was mostly smoke and mirrors, the implications are real. Scary stories and challenges like this capture public attention, sometimes leading to real-world consequences. Parents were freaked, schools sent out warnings, and online platforms had to issue statements. In a way, the myth of Momo became its own form of “dark magic,” amplifying fears and uncertainties.

Now, the ongoing problems? First off, this story highlighted how easily misinformation can spread in the digital age. We live in a world where tech amplifies our greatest fears into existential threats, whether we’re talking about creepy internet challenges or conspiracy theories. On top of that, even if Momo herself is debunked, the concept provides a template for future internet hoaxes that could potentially be more harmful.

As for dangers, well, the main risk is how stories like Momo prey on the vulnerable. Kids, teens, and even some adults can be influenced by these kinds of internet challenges, leading them to take actions they wouldn’t normally consider. And let’s not forget how it affects parents and caregivers, who suddenly feel like they have to protect their kids from not just physical dangers but digital ones too.

So, even though Momo’s more myth than monster, the fact that she took on a life of her own shows us the real magic—and danger—of the internet. Sometimes, the story becomes more powerful than the truth, and in the age of technology, those stories can spread like wildfire. In a way, Momo is a cautionary tale for all of us, a mix of modern tech and age-old fear. Spooky, right?

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