Jola Naibi

Writer and amateur photog. I seek to inspire and inform with the words I write and share and the photos I take. I have written a book of short stories: Terra Cotta Beauty, and I am working on a lot more. Reading and writing fuel my energy. In reading, I explore this vast and diverse world, in writing, I employ my over-active imagination and address the 'what-if' questions that life often throws at us.

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By on July 31, 2007

Everyone who has an email address has received one of those messages which has the picture of a cute child attached to it and it says that the child is dying from some rare disease and AOL and TimeWarner or Microsoft are willing to help pay for her medical bills as long as this message is forwarded to everyone in your address book and $0.08 will be paid for each email sent. As a reasonable thinking person, when I read a message like this years ago, it occured to me that well if those companies REALLY wanted to help out…why not just give the parents of this child the money instead of putting them and theirs through the hassle of forwarding a gazillion messages. If you have come across a message like this that seems too good to be true…may I introduce you to the Urban Legend Myths. I received one this morning, here’s an excerpt

Hi. My name is Lauren Archer, my son Kevin and I lived in Midland , TN.
On October 2nd, 1999 I took my only son to McDonald’s for his 3rd
birthday. After he finished lunch, I allowed him to play in the ball pit.
When he started whining later on, I asked him what was wrong, he
pointed to the back of his pull-up and >simply said “Mommy, it hurts.” I couldn’t find anything wrong >with him at that time. I bathed him when we got home, and it was at that point when I found a welt on his left buttock.
Upon investigating, it seemed as if there was something like a splinter under the welt. I made an appointment to see the doctor the next day,
but soon he started vomiting and shaking, then his eyes rolled back into his head. From there, we went to the emergency room. He died later that night. It turned out that the welt on his buttock was the tip of a hypodermic needle that had broken off inside. The autopsy revealed that Kevin had died from a heroine overdose. The next week, the police removed the balls from the ball pit. There was rotten food, several hypodermic needles: some full, some used;knives, half-eaten candy, diapers, feces, and the stench of urine.
(You can find the article on Kevin Archer in the October 10,1999
issue of the Midland Chronicle.)
Don’t think it’s just McDonald’s either. A little boy had been
playing in a ball pit @ a Burger King & started complaining of his legs hurting. He later died too. He was found to have snake bites all over his legs & buttocks. When they cleaned the ball pit they found that there was a copperhead’s nest in the ball pit. He had suffered numerous bites from a very poisonous snake.
Repost this if it scares you!!
Repost this if you care about kids!! Please forward this to all loving mothers, fathers and anyone who loves and cares for children!!

A lot needs to be said for the overactive imagination that came up with this very tall tale. Fact of the matter is that is all it is – a fable. A well-meaning individual forwarded it to me and of course you can imagine the heading – TAKE THIS VERY SERIOUSLY. FORWARD TO EVERYONE!!! My humble recommendation is this – if you receive a message that sounds too horrible to be true (poisonous snakes in a ball pit can make any parent’s skin crawl) plug it into one of those myth busters. One of the more popular ones is Snopes. Here’s what the folks at Snopes had to say about the Urban Legend Myth above –

Though this legend has gotten around, there is no real life incidents that correspond to it. No children have been bitten by snakes in ball pits. Though injuries and one death have occurred in such play areas, none were snake-related . A ball pit is the last place an animal such as a [rattle]snake would choose for a residence. Just as we dislike snakes, they don’t likewise care much for us. A rattler would avoid people and inhabited areas whenever possible

Another mythbuster is BreaktheChain which also had something to say about the story above –

You won’t find an article about Kevin Archer in the October 10, 1999 issue of the Midland Chronicle. In fact, you won’t find a Midland Chronicle – The paper doesn’t exist. The title is a combination of the Houston Chronicle and the Midland Reporter-Telegram, both of which have been falsely credited with this story. Further, there have been no reports of a child by that name (or any other) dying in any McDonalds restaurant in Midland, TN; Sugarland, TX; or any of the other towns different versions of this letter place him in. McDonalds firmly denies the allegations – There have also been no reports of snakes or any other such risks in fast-food restaurant play areas.
Urban legends like the one about Kevin Archer often describe believable and plausible scenarios. They describe them as events that actually happened to give them more clout and urgency. A story about a child who died from a ball bit injury is far more compelling than a generic warning that alleges the dangers of the play areas. Nothing is worse than a deadly danger lurking behind a symbol of happiness and joy, thus this legend appeals on very fundamental levels.

This is not to say that all the forwarded messages we receive are false. One of the ones that I found hard to believe was the following story which I received as a forwarded message

A mixed-race British mom gave birth to twins recently – one of each. No, not a boy and a girl. Two girls – one black, the other white. The odds of such a birth are about a million to one.

To ascertain the veracity of the story I plugged in a couple of key words in Snopes and came up with the truth

Turns out it was for real and there are a number of ‘Sounds too Good to be True’ stories which the mythbusters have vouched for as authentic, just like there are a number of rumor-mongering stories tailored to raise your blood pressure and turn you into a nervous wreck assuming you are so inclined. I recommend a mythbuster to put your mind at ease

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2 Comments
  1. Reply

    Nilla

    August 1, 2007

    Wow!!
    I’ll try one of those mythbusters one of these days.

  2. Reply

    GreenEyedMommy

    February 20, 2008

    I believe it’s possible. This story may not be true, but it could be. I take it as a sign of the times to protect our children and always expect the unexpected. And as for the comment about not believing that a mixed race mom can give birth to twins of different races… My friend’s first borns are living proof that it happens! So like I said, expect the unexpected…

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