Lately, social media has zipped by viral trends such as the #BlueBlackOrWhiteGoldDress and the #KylieJennerChallenge that usually last for only a few days at the most. The most recent trend, the #CharlieCharlieChallenge, gained rapid popularity that peaked in late May.
To play, all you need are two pencils and a piece of paper showing a quadrant with “yes” on two opposing corners and “no” on the two other opposing corners. Balance the two pencils to overlap the quadrant in the shape of a cross, then ask the question “Charlie, Charlie, are you here?” or “Charlie, Charlie, can we play?” According to the game, the pencil on top will shift either toward “yes” or “no,” signifying Charlie’s response.
According to social media posts, the game originated from a traditional Mexican game meant to summon a demon named Charlie. Though research from sources including the BBC and the Washington Post refute that story, the game gained massive popularity in a matter of hours due to the trending Vine and Twitter videos of those who tried the challenge as well as the relatively simple nature of the ritual. Similar to the Kylie Jenner challenge, which required people to inflate their lips with a suction, the Charlie Charlie challenge is easy to perform at home. Plus, the reactions of those who participate are fun entertainment for those who don’t wish to suffer the consequences of summoning a dangerous demon into their home but are still curious about the challenges themselves.
Though the meme reached millions, this wasn’t to the delight of everyone. Some people have become jaded by the repetitive surge of short-lived Internet trends.
“I believe the Charlie Charlie challenge was just a simple joke that everybody has now interpreted as a serious thing. However, each person understands it as a joke, yet they act upon it as a serious problem only to receive recognition because nowadays the only recognition that actually matters is through social media,” said William Chung, a sophomore at Valencia High School, during an interview with JSR.
The reactions to the Charlie Charlie challenge vary from light profanity to crowds of terrified people running out of their homes as the pencils ominously steer toward the “yes” corners. One of the major reasons why the game has gone so viral is that it’s so mysterious. Are the pencils moving due to gravity or someone purposely blowing on them, or are their movements really caused by a supernatural force?
“I do not think the challenge is legitimate due to the instability of the pencils and how easily air pressure in the room can move them,” Valencia sophomore Jana Obusan explained to JSR. “I would only try it to prove how so much can play into the pencils moving.”
However, the Charlie Charlie challenge has a potentially negative factor. According to a circulating post on Twitter and Tumblr, the game can invite dangerous, unwanted demons into your home if you do not break contact with Charlie by asking “Charlie, Charlie can we stop?” and dropping the pencils once Charlie responds with “yes.” Leaving the game unfinished may cause disturbing paranormal activity in your daily life.
The Charlie Charlie challenge reminds many observers of other divination games popular with previous generations of young adults, including “Bloody Mary” and the Quija board. It is an interesting take on what happens when you mix a tradition with mainstream social media. Regardless of the generation, the game has proven that kids all around the world have a curious fascination with the supernatural.