Concern over Charlie Charlie meme
Heard about the “Charlie Charlie Challenge”?
It is the latest Internet fad that has flooded social media feeds worldwide and has had teens, including those in Singapore, trying it out.
It involves a modified Ouija board done simply by placing two pencils on a piece of paper in the shape of the cross, with the words “yes” and “no” written on it.
With it participants claim to be able to summon — in this case, a supposedly Mexican spirit called Charlie.
Strange as it may sound, multiple clips have invaded social media feeds.
Though some quarters have suggested that it is a marketing ploy for an upcoming horror movie, others have disproved that notion, noting that there is very little similarity between the movie and the meme.
Here, teens told The New Paper that they have been influenced to give it a go. A Secondary Four student said he tried the challenge in school after viewing it on YouTube and Instagram two weeks ago.
The boy said: “I tried it because I was curious, and it seemed like fun.”
He even influenced his classmate to give it a try.
In a random TNP poll, 30 out of 50 people aged 16 to 45 said they were concerned about the phenomenon. The viral trend is particularly worrying parents here who are concerned that their children will dabble in occult practices.
One mother of two boys, aged 12 and 8, was puzzled when asked about the challenge by her elder son last week.
Civil servant Wong Mee Mee, 40, only found out about the challenge when she read online news reports about the trend.
Said Madam Wong: “I find this game very eerie. Whether or not it’s a joke, I discourage them from dabbling in it. Better to be safe than sorry.”
She warned her children not to take part.
Youth experts believe that its become a meme among young people because of the influence of social media.
Said Dr Carol Balhetchet, senior director for youth services at the Singapore Children’s Society: “Social media is their universe. It has such a profound influence on young people.
“Youths are particularly susceptible because they feel invincible, and think no harm will befall them. That’s what makes them try it.”
National University of Singapore sociologist Tan Ern Ser noted that teens could feel that it was cool to try out the phenomena they see on the Internet.
“This make us inclined towards the supernatural, which is believed to have control over what we don’t.”
The viral nature of the meme spurred priest and Vatican-approved exorcist Jose Antonio Fortea to speak publicly of its dangers.
In an interview with Catholic News Agency last Wednesday, which was then carried by news agencies around the world, Father Fortea warned that the challenge is “becoming a pastoral emergency”.
A spokesman from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore said that playing the challenge could result in “disastrous consequences”.
She says: “Our advice is for parents to be mindful of what their children engage in, especially on the internet, lest they fall prey to activities that might put them in the way of forces that are beyond anyone’s control.”
For the 16-year-old, the challenge did not work.
Nor did Charlie “appear” for their other classmates who had tried the challenge.
Says Aashiq: “The people on the Internet probably blew at the pencil to make it move!”