Not long ago here at Mysterious Universe I wrote an article about the various mysterious and weirdness lurking within this dark wilderness we call the Internet. It seems that people were interested in these phenomena, and I realized that there were many more tales of such strangeness that I had been forced to leave out of my original piece on the subject that deserved mention in this ever expanding realm of the unexplained. I felt that this was an area of the unexplained that needed expanding upon. Here we will delve once again into the very odd, mostly very creepy domain of Internet hauntings, curses, unsolved mysteries, and just plain strangeness and nightmare fuel. The Internet has proven to be a vast wellspring of various kinds of darkness, bafflement, horror, supernatural phenomena, and pure insanity, and here we will boldly venture right into all of its splendid, spooky oddity. Herein lie some more of the most bizarre, strangest, and eeriest phenomena to inhabit the expansive wasteland of the web. Continue on at your own risk.
Among the most popular and numerous of inexplicable occurrences on the Internet is that of mysterious, often purportedly cursed videos or photos that seem to lurch forth from some wellspring of horrors or even perhaps the depths of Hell itself. Undoubtedly designed to be disturbing and unsettling in nature, some of these videos and images have gone beyond mere weirdness to firmly entrench themselves into the lore of Internet legend, casting about themselves a seemingly impenetrable air of enigma and mystery, even at times apparently reaching out into the real world. These are clips, photos, or videos that seem to be imbued with more than just weird imagery and horror, perhaps even embodying something beyond our understanding.
One very unsettling photograph that has become synonymous with curses and madness, and has lodged itself deeply into Internet legend is what has come to be known simply as the “Smiling Dog.” The origins of the photo can be traced back to the 1990s, in the infancy of the Internet, when a strange photograph was posted to the popular forum Usenet. Simply called "Smile.jpg," the haunting image shows a husky dog in a dimly lit room with a very disturbing human-like smile plastered across its face, complete with straight, human-looking teeth. After one gets over the pure, almost primal shock of seeing this unsettling sight, one’s eyes might pry themselves off of the horror to drift off to the corner of the picture, where a ghostly red hand lurks seemingly to be reaching out to you, beckoning even. The photo was accompanied by no explanation, no captions, and no hint as to who had posted it or why.
It is perhaps no surprise at all that sinister lore began to spring up around the image almost immediately, and a whole ominous backstory began to form around it. The story that most became associated with the image was that an amateur writer had visited a reclusive old lady who had offered to give him ideas for a horror story. When the writer arrived, it is said that he found the woman locked away in her room, practically stark raving mad and incessantly ranting on and on about how she had been infected by the insanity of an image she had seen on a floppy disk, which just happened to be our Smile.jpg. The woman claimed that she had had unstoppable, vivid nightmares ever since viewing it, and that others who had seen it when she had released it had also gone hopelessly insane. She ended up giving the writer the disk to be rid of it, only later said to have supposedly committed suicide under the onslaught of her visions, and the rest is the stuff of Internet legend.
The original photo has been said to have been mostly lost, with most images of the Smiling Dog seen now said to be fakes or re-creations, but its effects have been well rumored of. The picture is said to have caused a wide variety of reactions in those who have seen it. One of the most persistently reported rumors is that it has the ability to incite intense epileptic fits in those who look upon it. This rumor is supported by an unverified tale that in 2002 the satire website Something Awful was flooded with the image by an unknown hacker and that this caused a mass epidemic of large numbers of people falling victim to uncontrollable epileptic seizures. The photo in its early days was also said to cause unavoidable creeping insanity, as it infected the minds of those who saw it to invoke within them uncontrollable nightmares, visions, hallucinations, and irresistible obsession. One common report is that the spooky image will constantly intrude upon people’s waking thoughts, obscuring their concentration and slowly driving them mad. It was also said to compel those who saw it to show it to someone else in order to pass on “the curse.” This impeding insanity was enough that it is said that many of the early Usenet users who saw it committed suicide in order to escape the stalking specter of the Smiling Dog in their every thought, which many have accused of not being a dog at all, but rather a demon of some sort.
The original photo itself has seemed to have remained elusive, although countless people have claimed to have seen it hiding on the net and to have fallen victim to its dark effects. In the years since its alleged appearance the Smiling Dog image has became a persistent Internet legend and has been accused of being everything from a hoax to a fictional short story that spun out of control, to an actual real demon influencing the world and its inhabitants through the dark photo. This whole tale smacks of mere spooky urban legend, and probably is, but it is certainly one of the creepier Internet stories floating around out there and has not stopped inciting debate and speculation to this day.
There are plenty of supposed cursed videos on the Internet as well, and one of the earliest and creepiest of these is a little piece of nightmare fuel with the unwieldy title of "Mereana Mordegard Glesgorv." The originally 2-minute video was uploaded onto YouTube in 2008 when the site was still in its infancy, and features the titular man simply staring intently and unsettlingly into the camera against a color-filtered blood red backdrop before suddenly cracking an evil looking smile. That’s it. That’s the whole video, but for such a simple sounding piece of footage it is deeply disturbing for reasons one cannot quite put one’s finger on, and it went on to spin rumors that it was heavily cursed.
It is was claimed that the video was impossible to watch for long before one simply had to look away, and that no one could stand watching it for more than 45 seconds before they would either have to avert their eyes, break down crying, or start screaming. If one were to make it all the way through to that final, demonic smile, it was said that the video would inevitably drive them completely, violently insane. Rumors abounded of people watching the clip all the way through only to begin cutting themselves with knives, or in more extreme tales actually ripping out their own eyeballs, even purportedly sending their disembodied eyes to the YouTube offices, or committing suicide in a fit of insanity. Others supposedly carved cryptic inscriptions into their forearms which cannot be decoded. Many of those who claimed to have been held in the grip of the “cursed” video reported not being able to remember what had happened during their episode. Indeed it was rumored that YouTube took the video down because so many people were going mad and hurting themselves after watching it. When the video resurfaced again, it had been heavily edited down to only 20 seconds in length, which was said to have been in order to avoid its sinister effects, as well as for YouTube to show that it was not cursed and possibly to keep people from searching for the full-length version.
The legend of the video goes that it was never discovered who had originally posted it or why. The story of Mereana Mordegard Glesgorv went viral and exploded across the Internet. The video was widely discussed amongst paranormal enthusiasts and regularly featured on blogs, forums, and websites about the mysterious, well, like this one that I’m writing on now, and was the subject of countless articles and chain e-mails. Interestingly, the video gained particular prominence in Russia, where it was incredibly popular and much talked about on numerous blogs and forums, with many claiming that it was some sort of mind control weapon designed by the U.S. Secret Service or some other shadowy government organization.
While this is all most definitely frightening, it is mostly thought that the whole Mereana Mordegard Glesgorv tale originated as a piece of creepypasta, which is fictional stories written of as if they are real phenomena and which often birth persistent Internet urban legends. Adding to the evidence that it is a hoax is the fact that another YouTube video was later released that explained the whole thing as a sham created by an eBaumsworld user who had used a picture of a man they claimed was a marketing coordinator at an LA-based advertising agency that had been found on a web design site called hillmancurtis.com, and who was later claimed by Russian bloggers to be a man named Byron Cortez.
Despite all of this, the video has maintained a cult following and plenty of conspiracy theorists who still claim that the video is more than it appears to be. Indeed there are many who still claim that there is something sinister about the clip, that it has the ability to cause the rumored effects, that this is all a true story, and who dare not watch it all the way through. Those who believe the tale say that the talk of a hoax is false, or that even using the photo of a known person the creator was somehow able to craft a potent cursed clip, and claim that there have been attempts to enact a cover-up of the videos true evil origins. Whatever the case may be, Mereana Mordegard Glesgorv is still so undeniably spooky and popular that in the years since its first appearance there have been numerous variations created by Internet users, many of which are at least deeply unsettling if not exactly cursed. Anyone who wants to give watching the video a shot can see it here. Cursed or not, I am sure it will at the very least freak you out.
Some videos are more famous for being incomprehensible or just plain odd rather than having any particular dark purpose or curse behind them. That we know of anyway. One very creepy video that set the Internet on edge was the fear inducing clip called I Feel Fantastic. The clip features a creepy, mannequin-like android that stares blankly at the camera with eyes straight from the uncanny valley, standing near a darkened window in a set made up to look like a living room as it sings “I feel fantastic” over and over again in a flat, lifeless monotone voice, with the video suddenly and inexplicably at one point cutting to footage of a patch of grass. Besides the surreal, nightmarish quality to the whole thing, the video is notable in that no one can figure out just where in the world it came from.
It was claimed by Reddit users to have first made its appearance under the title “I didn’t make this,” and when the poster was contacted he claimed that he had received it from a company that makes strange video clips. However, when the company was contacted they seemed to have no idea of where it had come from either. When the enigmatic video was further studied it was ascertained that it had been likely made on a constructed set using a fake living room with fake windows looking out onto nothing, but that was as much as anyone knew. Since the video has reached cult status it has been suggested that this is a video posted by a serial killer to announce his work, with the android representing the woman supposedly killed and the patch of grass where she is buried. It is still unknown who made this weird little clip or for what reason. All we do know is that it is without a doubt eerily creepy to watch and one of the more chilling videos out there. You can see it here.
Adding to the bad dreams is also the YouTube video called Grave Robbing for Morons, which originally appeared on YouTube and was claimed to have been taken from a VHS video of the same name. The 27-minute long video is a sort of how-to documentary that follows around an unidentified man as he goes about robbing and defiling graves, all the while explaining to the viewer how to do it, how to deal with witnesses, how to handle the body parts, and how to avid getting caught. Throughout it all, the host shows off skulls and loot he has collected from various graves, as well as sharing stomach churning anecdotes and descriptions about what he has seen and done. At the end, the man takes credit for making looting cemeteries popular and promises the audience that Houdini’s grave is the next target, before doing a “hang loose” sign, after which the whole bizarre video ends. So far, no one can quite figure out who the video first came from, or whether it is authentic or not. Some say that it is all real, while others say it is a hoax video, some sort of art project, or a psudo-reality snuff video like the infamous Faces of Death series. It is unlikely we will ever know for sure since the man in the video has never been identified, the origin of the video never verified, and indeed whether it really ever existed on VHS or not is still unknown. Grave Robbing for Morons remains a rather odd little Internet mystery that is sure to keep debate going for some time to come.
Perhaps equally as disturbing and enigmatic as any of these videos is another clip that has become a prominent Internet mystery and is said to hold dark implications. The original title of the video was written in the binary text “01101101 01110101 01100101 01110010 01110100 01100101,” which translates to the Spanish word muerte, meaning “death,” but to most it is simply called “The Plague Doctor Video.” This extremely bizarre clip was posted in 2015 by the Swedish tech blog Gadgetzz, which they claimed they had anonymously received as a DVD in the mail. The grainy, black and white video features a person wearing a medieval-style plague doctor mask and black robe, who is in a eerie abandoned building and wearing a glove that blinks with light. Throughout the whole thing, the figure stands silently as strange noises and static echo in the background, and there are periodic jump-cuts to other video clips.
The strange, cryptic video was soon posted on sites such as 4chan and YouTube and sent the Internet into a frenzy, with conspiracy theorists intensely picking the video apart and amateur sleuths analyzing and dissecting every aspect of it, desperate to decipher what it all meant. It was not long before it was discovered that there were many layers to the mystery of the video and that its bizarre appearance was just the beginning. The video was found to be absolutely packed with hidden messages and codes, so much so that it is hard to know even where to begin. First there is the glove the figure is wearing. Within the glove is embedded a blinking light that was found to be sending a form of Morse code that translated to “RED LIPSLIKE TENTH,” which some Internet sleuths believed to be the rearranged letters of the phrase “Kill the president.” Another series of flashes of the lights apparently spell out “2015THEREWILLBE(THREE),” whatever that means.
Throughout the video there are also various symbols and messages that flash and flicker for just a frame or two, often upon the window in the clip or on the wall. One such symbol is the letter “G” at the center of an eye, and there are also claimed to be seen GPS coordinates related to the White House, some binary codes, and an assortment of chess moves, among others. The sound in the video is also dripping with weirdness, with several layers of frequency being used that hide unidentified sounds with an unknown meaning. Perhaps spookiest of all were some of the images some Internet users found hidden within these layers of sounds. Using a spectrogram, which is an instrument used to turn sound waves into visual images, it was found that the video had all sorts of disturbing pictures lurking within its soundscape. One such image is that of an unidentified bound and gagged woman being tortured while overlaid with the text “We are the anti-virus,” and another supposedly shows a human skull accompanied by the message “You are already dead.”
There are so many hidden codes, images, and easter eggs stuffed within this one clip that it is believed that they have still not all been found, and many of them have meanings that remain enigmatic to say the least. The very origin of the mysterious video has also come into dispute. While it was originally reported that it was first posted by the tech site, others disagreed. One YouTube poster claimed that it was they who first found the video, saying that it had been sent to him online by a friend of his who had found the DVD in a park in Spain. The user claimed that Gadgetzz’s claims were false, and further insisted that he or she had nothing to do with the actual creation of the clip. Others have claimed to have found the actual location where the clip was shot, at an abandoned insane asylum in Poland. However, it is still totally unknown who made the video and uncertain as to who originally found it or what it all means.
The deeply discomforting Plague Doctor Video has been theorized to be many things. One is that it is an encoded message from some sinister terrorist group to announce some nefarious scheme to attack the United States or its president, possibly with biological weapons as hinted at with the plague mask. There is also the idea that it is some sort of mind control experiment. This theory has been supported by those who have claimed that watching the bizarre images and hearing the odd sounds has evoked a deep sense of dread and unease, as well as symptoms such as severe as faintness and nausea. It is also of course possible that this is all just a sick prank or hoax, someone just playing mind games and enjoying the online reaction they are provoking, and it could maybe even be some sort of viral marketing campaign. In the end, no one really knows, and the Plague Doctor Video continues to stir debate and controversy.
Some mysterious videos on the Internet are really hard to classify, and one of these definitely has to be a series of bizarro clips uploaded to YouTube by as user known as "Unfavorable Semicircle." Starting on April 5, 2015, the user began uploading impenetrable clips that have continued to confuse and evade explanation to this day. The first of these videos featured 4 seconds of a silent brown screen featuring a blurry hole or dot on it. After this initial clip the user began posting a flood of similar such weird videos at the rate of one approximately every 10 minutes, although this rate skyrocketed in February of 2016, to the point that around 3 videos a minute were being posted, causing YouTube to suspend the account on February 25, 2016 for various terms of service violations. By the time the bizarre account was shut down it had uploaded a mind-boggling 72,000 such odd videos, none of which make an iota of sense. Many of these clips had titles that were just as weird as the content itself, with a good number of them featuring the zodiac sign for Sagittarius along with random numbers, and around 28,000 videos starting with the word “BRILL,” followed by numbering in ascending fashion.
Most of this deluge of clips featured the same sort of silent, static background with a dot on it that ranged from 4 to 6 seconds long, although some of these videos changed things up a bit, which only further deepened the mystery. Occasionally videos would pop up that were totally blank, while others showed random images, names, or lines of scrambled digits, sometimes all of the above, as well as one video featuring a voice flatly reciting the alphabet and another that went beyond the typically brief length of the clips to feature a static image set to a full 11 hours of nothing but silence. Yet another clip showed a series of blurry images set to a background of distorted audio and another contained 10 seconds of sustained, high pitched squealing that is said to be absolutely spine tingling to hear. One disturbing detail that made a recurring appearance in some of the videos was an encoded distant-sounding voice of a man that would recite seemingly random streams of numbers and letters that sounds like total gibberish, and at times stating merely a single number. At times the voice has come across as rather unsettling indeed, being described as something akin to a “distant, echoed scream.”
Although the videos were heavily dissected and picked apart for clues by Reddit users, no one has ever been able to figure out what any of it means, if anything. Of course with so much mystery surrounding it, Unfavorable Semicircle has created a swirl of theories as to what it could have been. One is that it was merely some sort of abstract art project or someone just pulling everyone’s leg. It is also often suggested as being secret, encoded videos being used by the government to communicate to spies or agents in the field, like a numbers station, or even a test by the government for some unknown purpose or a recruitment tool for the super intelligent individuals who are able to crack it. More far-out ideas are that it is the result of the machinations of a sentient AI entity, an alternate reality game, inter-dimensional communication of some kind, or of course, aliens. In the end no one really knows, and Unfavorable Semicircle remains an inexplicable conundrum.
Also filled with mysterious codes and images is not a video, but a whole, inscrutable site known as "oct282011.com," which references a date on the Mayan calendar that was purported to be the date of the apocalypse. The site consists of basically a dark screen upon which features some indecipherable lines of cryptic text and a link. Clicking on the link leads to a page with hand drawn mystic images of things such as pyramids and even one of what appears to be Schrodinger’s cat, as well as what look like scientific diagrams of some sort. There are also featured many baffling messages and a phone number. Upon calling the phone number, it was reported that there was a long silence punctuated by a shrill beeping sound. On occasion it was reported that odd and creepy sounds such as muffled voices, heavy breathing, or something heavy being dragged across a floor could be heard in the background of the calls. Some people have reported that calling the number more than one time leads to increasing bizarreness, such as screaming, gurgling, and other less definable but repulsive noises, as well as a voice that supposedly says “it’s him again.”
Even after the titular date of the site came and went without the end of the world occurring, it remained not only active, but would constantly be rearranged and changed by unknown parties, often featuring new text, puzzles, images, and codes. Then it apparently went silent, and changed to a simple page featuring only some banner ads and no trace of the mysteries that it had teemed with once before. The phone number that had been listed also went dark, and the whole strange site has left puzzlement in its wake ever since. Some of the ideas of what it might have been include that it was some sort of recruitment site for a cult, a government numbers station-type site for transmitting top-secret information, the ravings of a madman, a hoax, or a piece of the wide ranging Internet puzzle known as Cicada 3301, a phenomenon which I have written of here before. To this day who was behind the oct282011.com site and its phone number or why, as well as what any of it meant, remain a mystery.
A common thread running through some of these stories so far is the idea that these videos or websites might be secret tools for communication by some shadowy, clandestine group or government organization, and indeed another web mystery is surrounded by such sinister talk. In 2011 some weird activity began to revolve around the Facebook page of a Canadian woman by the name of Karin Catherine Waldegrave, who was claimed on the page to be born in London and multilingual, speaking languages as diverse as French, Estonian, Latvian, English, Russian, Gallic, Latin, and German, as well as holding a PhD from the University of Toronto, Canada. So far it doesn’t seem all that unusual, but things got very weird very quickly on the page.
Interspersed with somewhat lucid, normal posts were rambling, nonsensical ones that were for the most part incoherent nonsense, that were followed by reams of comments from Waldegrave herself, which were just as bizarre and cryptic, and suggested that she was having conversations with herself, often in more than one language. Hundreds of updates and comments would be added to these posts, sometimes up to 700 replies within a mere 12 hours, all of them seemingly random gibberish. The posts themselves would come in quick succession, often paragraphs and paragraphs of text that would be posted within minutes of each other, to soon be deluged with a barrage of strange, meaningless comments. One such enigmatic post reads as follows:
Also, the organized criminal pervert network which constructed our upscale condominium building in 1997 is advised to stop peeping tommery in it and activist social programming while harassing homeowners in a variety of ways including master key type entry in absentia and aggressive impertinent socialite curiosity. Selling retired entrepreneurial couples, war veterans, and young married couples with toddler age children and without (also considering other residents such as young professionals such as accountants as renters in the building) $2.5 Million worth of real estate (us for example – we are married and have been spouses for 8 years in a long marriage, a second long and faithful marriage for both of us – lifelong home owners in Canada both with the exception of 1947 – 1952), continuing peeping over the years and other home invading behaviour by frequent knocks on the door.
None of it makes a lick of sense, yet would be followed by reams of comments from the poster herself, all of them just as jarringly bizarre and some of them posted within seconds of each other regardless of length. Curiously, only a handful of pictures of Waldergrave herself would appear on the page, and in every instance they seemed to be damaged in some way. Many of her posts focused on rants about government conspiracies, and in later days Waldergrave spent a lot of time rambling on about the CIA, the FBI, and the shadowy Men in Black. She claimed that she was being watched and stalked by them, and that she knew all about their dark dealings. There was also mention of having knowledge of the activities of several international government agencies and their deranged operations.
Just as this odd Facebook page was starting to make the rounds and draw the attention of those who would learn what it all meant, the page was taken down and dissolved into nothing. There was no sign of where the information had gone, who Karin Catherine Waldegrave was, or whether she was ever even a real person at all. One of the most popular ideas about this page is that it was a sort of communications line for sending coded, encrypted secret information, sort of a bulletin board for spies. Another is that it was a computer program creating random text in order to analyze random text generation. Then there is the possibility that this was the page of a deeply disturbed individual and that this was a recorded log of her descent into insanity. It is quite possible we will never know for sure, and there has never been any further communication from Waldegrave. Whatever this was has dissipated into Internet legend.
If the government is involved in using the Internet for its own purposes, there are certainly other phenomena that seem to support this theory. In March of 2009, a group of researchers from the Information Warfare Monitor in Toronto were checking security measures on the Dali Lama’s network when they stumbled across something ominous indeed. It was discovered that there was a mysterious online network that extended to 1,295 infected hosts in 103 countries, most of who were considered to be “high value targets” such as ministries of foreign affairs, embassies, international organizations, news media, and NGOs.
These systems had been hacked and rigged in such a way as to harvest and syphon off sensitive information to send to, well, no one really knows. The invasion of these systems, called the GhostNet, showed incredible sophistication, with the hacking technology allowing its unknown masters to activate a computer’s camera or sound recording equipment, as well as remotely install programs or conversely remove them, all allowing unprecedented access and control of infected computers. While it has been speculated that GhostNet was run by the Chinese government, hence the targeting of the Dali Lama, no one is quite sure who is behind it all, or where all of that top secret information has gone off to.
Another spooky phenomena attributed to government handiwork is the presence of what are called “Internet black holes.” It seems that across the vast landscape of cyberspace there are those mysterious zones that just seem to suck information in, never to be seen again. In these zones data seems to enter but never come out the other end, with packets of data, emails, and documents seeming to be digested into nothingness. The phenomena has been studied, and since the missing data is expected to have remained somewhere there have been efforts to track it down by hackers, data professionals, government agencies, and tech firms, but no trace of the missing information has ever been found. In some cases it has been found that some of these black holes are pulling in information and sending it to an unknown source. This has led to speculation that these black holes are intentionally laid out by sinister organizations for the purpose of collecting vast amounts of data or making it disappear, but who this could be or what they want remain unknown.
The Internet has obviously become the next frontier for tales of the spooky and the weird. This is a badlands which is just as deep, impenetrable, and often dangerous as any wilderness out there over the horizon. What forces are at work, operating beyond the periphery of what we see when we log on every day? Are these tales of mysterious entities, unknown organizations operating in the murk out of view, or just the rantings of the troubled or insane? There can be no doubt that in this ever widening, vast realm we know of as the Internet there are phenomena and mysteries that may forever elude us. This is ground zero for the unexplained of the digital age. Moving on from old houses and decrepit ruins, this new domain of cyberspace has become the new frontier of ghost stories and takes of the bizarre. Although we may use the Internet everyday without incident, it is a sobering thought that out there in cyberspace lurk such strangeness, demons, and madness, waiting to pounce upon those who stumble across it. Sweet dreams.