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#SocialMedia Briefly Goes #Crazy Over Mysterious #Cloaked Figure

Social media reacts to superstition like it's miracle grow. Now that we have a wider, more user friendly interface within the internet allowing people to communicate with each other about everything, conspiracy theories have gained in size and lunacy. Gone are the days of poorly designed backwater websites filled with blurry pictures of something that isn't bigfoot. Now they're all on Facebook, waiting for the next weird thing to happen so that they can all jump on it.

Well last week many such people got their wish, as images and reports of a mysterious cloaked figure started to surface in Gastonia, North Carolina. The unknown phantom was photographed outside an apartment building and other residents claim to have seen them dropping raw meat on the ground, mostly near playgrounds. Even for a practised, cold-hearted sceptic like me, that raises some pretty unsettling questions.

As is the way with these things, the story spread across social media like crazy and before long a massive storm of speculation about who this person could be, why they were doing this and whether they were even a person at all (spoiler alert: yes) brewed. Supposedly as the photos were snapped, the figure would raise and lower their hands at intervals.

Facebookers are talking about seeing this person in Hudson Woods Sunday. Did you actually see the cloaked person who reportedly dropped raw meat on or near the playground?
Posted by The Gaston Gazette on Monday, August 17, 2015

Of course, before too long, a logical explanation surfaced. It turned out that the figure was a student, visiting the area to work on a project. Allegedly the parent of the cloaked student (working in a group) saw the social media reaction and got in touch with the local authorities and explained everything. This is a prime example of some weird event becoming almost globally recognised because the social media buzz overtook the actual news, it happens all the time. Even a few years ago, this story would never have made it past Gastonia.

Often in similar cases, it turns out to be a hoax, rather than a misunderstanding, but even when the claims made by more imaginative theorists are ridiculous, the momentum is still large enough to make them the centrepiece of the story. Even the most respected scientific publications reported on the alleged 'dark lady of Mars' recently, rather than just doing the appropriate thing and completely ignoring it, because it was rubbish. Still though, if you want to get yourself on the international news, just throw a cloak on and wander around a local town doing something weird (and hope somebody nearby has a decent Instagram following).

Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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#SocialMedia Briefly Goes #Crazy Over Mysterious #Cloaked Figure Reviewed by Unknown on Sunday, August 30, 2015 Rating: 5

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