Is The Internet Haunted?
Spirits and demons have walked the planet for many thousands of years, but are we creating a new digital wave of evil? Slender man, Dear David, Blue Whale Challenge…is it possible to create demons in real time that haunt the information superhighway? Frank and Mike explore some spiritual history, burial rituals, classic ghost stories, modern ghost stories and ask the frightening question — is it possible for the internet to be haunted and are people creating digital demons?
All this and more is available here at your fingertips in what we call ‘light video format’ (accompanying photos and videos) on YouTube and in audio/podcast format on Soundcloud!
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The details of the afterlife in different cultures vary, but the constants were that such a realm existed, that it was governed by immutable laws and that the souls of the dead would remain there unless given license by the gods to return to the land of the living for some specific reason. These reasons could include improper funeral rites, lack of any kind of burial, death by drowning where the body was not recovered, murder in which the body was never found (and so never properly buried), or to resolve some unfinished business or provide a true account of the events surrounding their death, such as when one was murdered and needed one’s death avenged and the murderer brought to justice in order to rest in peace.
Homo Naledi is an extinct species of human discovered in Rising Star Cave in South Africa in 2013 CE in what has become the biggest single-species hominin find in Africa to this day, which is moreover set to cause a bit of an avalanche within the field of palaeoanthropology because the skeletons’ strange mix of features and young date of 236,000 and 335,000 years old serve to highlight hominin variety. More than 1500 fossils that once belonged to the living bodies of at least 15 individuals were painstakingly removed from a very inaccessible part of the cave. In a breath of fresh air, the project, led by paleontologist Lee Berger, not only presented its results in open access fashion but even allowed the world to watch over their shoulders as social media and a live blog by National Geographic kept track of the excavation process.
Assyria, like Mesopotamia in general, has always excited the Western imagination. Assyrian beliefs about the spiritual world are no exception. The Assyrians believed that ghosts could return from the afterlife if not properly buried or if they had suffered a traumatic or unnatural death to haunt, harass, and even possess the living. Elaborate exorcisms had to be performed to expel or drive away the malevolent ghosts. Once a student of history learns about Assyrian ghost stories and exorcisms, the reason that ghosts are often feared in folklore becomes readily understandable.
Like other primitive races, the peoples of Chaldea scarcely discriminated at all between religion and magic. One difference between the priest and the sorcerer was that the one employed magic for religious purposes whilst the other used it for his own ends. The literature of Chaldea—especially its religious literature—teems with references to magic, and in its spells and incantations, we see the prototypes of those employed by the magicians of medireval Europe. Indeed so closely do some of the Assyrian incantations and magical practices resemble those of the European sorcerers of the Middle Ages and of primitive peoples of the present day that it is difficult to convince oneself that they are of independent origin.
Well, it’s not the oldest, but it is very old. Dating to a couple of thousand years ago, Pliny The Younger records a ghost story complete with all the so-called modern trappings.
There is a restless spirit, rattling chains and other strange noises, nightmares, the appearance of a phantom, and to top it off, the price for the house was slashed considerably which again is something that is said to occur today with reportedly haunted houses.
There was in Athens a house, spacious and open, but with an infamous reputation, as if filled with pestilence. For in the dead of night, a noise like the clashing of iron could be heard. And if one listened carefully, it sounded like the rattling of chains. At first, the noise seemed to be at a distance, but then it would approach, nearer, nearer, nearer. Suddenly a phantom would appear, an old man, pale and emaciated, with a long beard, and hair that appeared driven by the wind. The fetters on his feet and hands rattled as he moved them.
Any dwellers in the house passed sleepless nights under the most dismal terrors imaginable. The nights without rest led them to a kind of madness, and as the horrors in their minds increased, onto a path toward death. Even in the daytime–when the phantom did not appear–the memory of the nightmare was so strong that it still passed before their eyes. The terror remained when the cause of it was gone.
The Slender Man (also known as Slenderman) is a fictional supernatural character that originated as a creepypasta Internet meme created by Something Awful forums user Eric Knudsen (also known as “Victor Surge”) in 2009. It is depicted as a thin, unnaturally tall humanoid with a featureless head and face and wearing a black suit.
Because the Slender Man’s fictional “mythology” has evolved without an official “canon” for reference, his appearance, motives, habits, and abilities are not fixed but change depending on the storyteller. He is most commonly described as very tall and thin with unnaturally long, tentacle-like arms (or merely tentacles), which he can extend to intimidate or capture prey. In most stories, his face is white and featureless, but occasionally his face appears differently to anyone who sees it. He appears to be wearing a dark suit and tie. The Slender Man is often associated with the forest and/or abandoned locations and has the ability to teleport. Proximity to the Slender Man is often said to trigger a “Slender sickness”; a rapid onset of paranoia, nightmares, and delusions accompanied by nosebleeds.
So, my apartment is currently being haunted by the ghost of a dead child and he’s trying to kill me. He started appearing in dreams, but I think he’s crossed over into the real world now. The first time I saw him, I was experiencing sleep paralysis and saw a child sitting in the green rocking chair at the foot of my bed.
He had a huge misshapen head that was dented on one side. I did my best to draw it:
For a while he just stared at me, but then he got out of the chair and started shambling toward the bed.
The Blue Whale Challenge has been described as a “shadowy online phenomenon,” a hideous mind manipulation that assigns participants 50 bizarre, violent and, eventually, lethal tasks. It is named after blue whales’ tendency to beach themselves on purpose before death.
The tasks include tweeting that you are a blue whale using a hashtag. Another instructs participants to cut an arm three times. The last suggests victims take their own life. Players complete the tasks over the course of 50 days. Some reports say participants give a Blue Whale Challenge administrator updates on their progress. Failure to do so results in administrators threatening them.
In June, Russian investigators said Ilya Sodorov, a 26-year-old postman from Moscow, confessed to being an administrator to whom the game’s participants had to give progress reports. According to one report in the Russian news outlet Novaya Gazeta, the Blue Whale Challenge has been linked to suicides by 130 Russian children in the last six months alone.