This viral (and diabolical) craze has all the trappings of an expertly executed marketing campaign
The latest Twitter/Facebook trend has participants summon a demon called Charlie #CharlieCharlieChallenge. It’s already reached millions (more than 2 million in 48 hours) and going by the numerous viral feeds, YouTube clips, and posts, its main participants are children and teenagers.
The origin of this so-called game is unclear, though it has all the trappings of an expertly executed marketing campaign. I’m not saying it is, but it’s insidiously alluring all the same, with posts challenging others to try it even if they are skeptical of the paranormal. It’s “hilarious,” some say, “freaky fun.” There are appeals to curiosity: “Have you tried it yet? Do you think it’s real?” Other posts hype the sensationalistic with reports of strange and terrifying phenomena occurring when playing the challenge: from rattling doorknobs to scratching noises to hearing whispers in other rooms when no one was supposed to be there to seeing bizarre shadows and figures, it certainly has the trimmings of a horror flick. The craze has spread itself across a broad spectrum of online social media, utilizing the unique strengths of the various social media platforms to reach the masses in diverse ways. Many are their experiences trying the CharlieCharlieChallenge, and posting to social media. Even the choice of words to get others to “play” the “game” is insidious: it’s a “challenge” and “harmless fun.”
To top it all off, the materials needed to summon the demon are easily available to school children. All that is needed is a piece of paper and two pencils. Players draw a cross on a piece of paper and label two yes’s and two no’s in the four quadrants formed. Then, placing the pencils in the form of a cross over the penciled cross, players repeatedly chant: “Charlie, Charlie are you here?” or “Charlie, Charlie, can we play?” – the various posts can’t seem to agree which comes first. If the top pencil swings to the “Yes,” players can start asking Charlie yes/no questions and the pencils supposedly move in response. All this is done to conjure a Mexican demon called Charlie or a ghost of the victim of child abuse (again, the various posts don’t seem to agree). When players want to stop, they are advised to go through the ritual of chanting “Charlie, Charlie, can we stop?” then wait for the answer of “yes” before dropping the pencils to the floor to break contact with the demon.
In a sense, it’s nothing new – a digital reincarnation of the Ouija board in many respects. I wanted to ignore this fad and not take the effort to write an article that might give it additional advertising, but the fact that it has reached so many, coupled with my goal to give God glory and sanctify souls through these articles I write, changed my mind. We need to be clear. Scripture reminds us that Satan — and along with Satan, devils, and demons — are real.
Our Lord warns: “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky” (Luke 10:18) and again: “Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for (someone) to devour.” (1 Peter 5). St Paul tells us plainly: “Draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens” (Ephesians 6:10-12).
The spiritual battle is real and we are participants, whether we like it or not, whether we’re aware of it or not. And just as a warrior goes through disciplined training before being thrust into battle, I wish that Spiritual Combat 101 could be a class (real life itself already constitutes the practicum) available to us because learning the enemy’s tactics and strategies is beneficial in our own spiritual warfare. Case in point here: Satan wants us to ignore the danger that associating with him (and by extension, devils and demons) entails. “It’s only a harmless game. It’s scary-fun.” He sows confusion, causing some to doubt his existence (this allows the enemy to fly under the radar) and others to see him as a hilarious cartoonish caricature (allowing us to let down our guard). In his book