Kids just wanna have fun (and click links that look crazy)
Parents and Teachers beware - there's a new villain lurking out there to ensnare your children. It starts out innocent enough - a mysterious figure tells your kids they need to act up - do bad things, be naughty - and finally it ends with the children losing their parents, and their souls!!!
Oh wait - that's not exactly a new story. That's from "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark," a book that's been around since I was a kid, and is still around because I saw it in our Scholastic book fair last month. Actually Guerrmo Del Toro is making a movie based on it soon. This is the terrifying image from that book.
And speaking of terrifying images, Have you heard of MO-MO? If you have, you’re probably scared or angry about it. You go on long rants about how the internet is the end of our society, how kids these days just don't understand, and that when you were young you just played outside all day. If you haven’t heard of Mo-Mo - listen up! I’m going to tell you something very important!
MO-MO IS NOT AS BIG A DEAL AS MANY PEOPLE ARE MAKING IT OUT TO BE.
Mo-Mo is a story. It's a folktale story that people tell each other, and act like it is something that happend "Right here in our own town!!!" Remember playing "Bloody Mary" and thinking something would conjure up in the mirror? Remember the story of the hook hand man who roams around and scratches on the car door or roof of the car while teenagers are making out? Mo- Mo is like that. She is supposed to be some scary figure that will give you bad luck or do bad things if you don’t do what she tells you to do, and kids should follow a series of orders until she finally convinces kids to kill themselves. And yes that’s scary. And yes the picture is super creepy.
That bug eyed monster is supposed to be Mo- Mo. But in reality, There is no Mo - Mo. The picture you see of Mo Mo is actually just the head of a statue in a Japanese museum - the statue is called "mother bird" which is, yes, also creepy but has no strange powers and is not lurking around corners trying to get your children. It is plastic or plaster and based on Japanese folk legends.
A little background - Yokai are Japanese folk legends (a little like Bigfoot or the Mothman for America) - Mother bird is an homage to Yokai - Not sure exactly which Mother Bird is supposed to be, but there's a resemblance to Onmoraki or Ubume (pictures below). Either way, I believe we need to KNOW what we are looking at and what we are afraid of, if we are going to be able to battle against these ridiculous MEME's that travel around the internet.
(information from Yokai.com)
To be clear, I am not saying the Mo-Mo hoax is ok. It's bad. It's a dangerous idea. It is a terrible, dangerous idea, and whomever perpetuated it in the first place is also terrible. It is another example, among many (the Whale based suicide challenge was way before Mo-Mo) of online Bullies and Trolls making the internet terrible for the rest of us. We need to avoid it. We need to stay away from it. But we also need to stop giving it power by sharing it all over instagram and facebook.
The longer view picture of the Mo-Mo statue (picture from the mirror.haus instagram) - is a creepy statue. But It's designed to sit in a museum and have people admire or be disturbed by it. The HOAX and STORY that was told online was designed to get YOU and your kids to click on it. The way people get ad revenue on instagram is through clicks. The way people get ad revenue on youtube is to get clicks. So youtubers perpetuate the Mo-Mo hoax by "taking the Mo-Mo challenge" and getting people to watch their videos. More controversy, more danger, more fear = more clicks. Kids just want to have fun, and if a picture is intriguing, weird, or crazy - they're gonna want to click it. But If you want this perpetuation of negativity to stop, stop clicking it.
To be clear, there have been NO reports of anyone committing suicide, and the phone numbers or what's app profiles for mo mo are disconnected. This is not something that is going to jump out from somewhere - in the middle of a youtube video for instance - and snatch your kids. You have to look for it to find it - so don't look. And if you do come across it, just stay away from it. It can't hurt you or your kids - it's all about scaring you. And so far it's working.
Just as an experiment, I looked long and hard at the Motherbird picture. What about it makes it so scary? The stringy hair (a-la "the Ring")? The Gigantic Eyes? The grotesque mouth? So I did a little Kardashian level photoshopping on her, to see if she had as much power without those weird exaggerated features. This is Motherbird without the crazy eyes and mouth:
Not quite as scary.
There have been plenty of scary villains with similar, creepy features over the years. Who can forget Chucky? Or the IT clown? Or recently, the NUN and ANNABELLE (my students talk about those two a lot lately)
Of course, as parents and teachers, we need to be watchful of the things we allow our kids to see, and what gets put in their head. I don't believe it's good for ANY kids to see some of these particularly scary images.
But when you look at the reality, we put quite a bit more emphasis on Mo-Mo than Chucky or the NUN - and yet they are no less scary for students.
In the end, what we need is more communication. More KNOWING what we are sharing before we SHARE it on Facebook. More KNOWLEDGE.
Tell your kids what Mo-Mo is. It's a statue, and a hoax that bad people are trying to get you to believe in. There are bad people online who want you to click bad things - DON'T CLICK on ANYTHING you don't know what it is. In fact, I broke down what you need to do online into four easy things to remember.
STAYING SAFE FOR KIDS ONLINE: BY MISTER E
1 - DONT CLICK anything you don't know what it is
2 - DONT TELL anyone online anything about yourself - keep it secret, keep it safe
3 - DONT be NEGATIVE online - all your old things you post and mean things you say online will have consequences - that's why Kevin Hart didn't host the oscars and James Gunn isn't directing Guardians 3
4 - DONT USE TECH IN PRIVATE - Parents - watch what your kids are looking at. Monitor what they're doing
Big eyes and a weird mouth is NOT what's going to hurt you online (see example A of a middle aged dad turned moster with a few digital adjustments - is it creepy? yes? But that guy's harmless)
Honestly, you want something really scary? I found out about another Japanese Museum with statues of a folk tale (pictures from https://www.tofugu.com/travel/momotaro-shrine/ )
It's called the Momotaro shrine? The Momotaro shrine tells another Japanese tale - about a boy who is born inside a peach and then defeats some demons? Or something like that?
In my opinion - this is creepier than anything else I've seen so far. You've been warned......