What would you do if the ghost of a kid appears before you? Take pictures and tweet about it!
Twitter has become a spooky place to be wandering in, and I’m not precisely talking about the horrific tweets published by Mr. 45 every day. Since the first days of August, people have excitedly joined August Ellis in his terrifying experience of being haunted by the ghost of a child, or that’s what he claims. Since then, not only his number of followers increased, but also the fear and interest of media publishers who want to keep their audiences informed of every single update on the story. Now, according to Ellis’ tweets, it all started one night he was experiencing sleep paralysis. Suddenly he saw a boy sitting on a chair by his bed. He wouldn’t move or say anything. He just looked thoroughly as if trying to read Ellis’ mind.
He appeared to him a couple of nights after that, but it all started to get creepy after dreaming that a girl in the library told him that he could only ask Dear David (the name of the kid) two questions. According to her, if you dared to ask a third one, he would come and kill you. With that tip in mind, the next time he dreamed with David he asked him how had he died, to which the kid replied it had been in an accident at a store. Intrigued, Ellis asked him what had happened at the store to which David coldly replied that a shelf had been pushed on his head. Not realizing that he had already asked the second question, he continued his interrogation by asking who had done that. There was no reply. From that moment on, those sleeping experiences trespassed that realm and started manifesting in real life. Now, for those skeptical like me, this is a mere hoax, but does that really matter?
I still watch documentaries about haunted houses or movies “based on real events” just because of their narrative quality, and something we can’t deny about August Ellis is his ability to keep us craving for more of his experiences. The idea of literature through social media isn’t new. Since the network appeared, people interested in literature have been keen to find new alternatives to generate new fictional discourses and narratives. We have poetweets, one-sentence short stories, or better said 140 character stories, and even serialized fictions that appear every once in a while. Dear David, in my opinion, is just a new and innovative form of modern literature that has proven to be more than effective with each publication becoming viral.
By merging written statements with multimedia files such as photographs, videos, recordings, and even drawings to put a face to the misshapen boy that haunts him, Ellis has managed to enrich through different dimensions a story that otherwise would be just uninteresting, if you ask me. What has us on the edge of our seats, scrolling fervently to not miss a single tweet of this story, is his ability to make create cliffhangers with each series of tweets.They give us more hints about who this ghost might have been and what he wants, but at the same time, it says so little that we end up not knowing anything at all and hoping for more updates on the story.
What’s amazing about all this is Ellis’ ability to keep the story going. I mean, it’s been about six months since it started, and people have created a sort of community where they try to help him or advise him on what to do next every time he posts something. That’s probably the key to his success: the didactic essence of his project. For now, the last update was made early this month. It was a picture of his room, and we can clearly see Dear David resting at the feet of Ellis’ bed. So, I guess, there’s still more to the story. As for me, I honestly don’t mind if this is all fake. On the contrary, I'm impressed by the creative ways in which he’s fed such a simple story and how without saying too much in terms of plot, he has created a wide audience and appealing narrative. So, what do you think about this?
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Images from The Orphanage (2007)