2015, January 10: Creepy Reflection

On March 20, 2016, the following photo was posted in the 9gag.com website with the title "Beautiful window, wait...:"

Selfie gone wrong
Strange photo posted on March 27
[Photo source]

        The picture gathered a number of humorous replies, and had one person who tried to explain that this was the result of a slow shutter speed in the cell phone. A week later, on March 27, the photo was posted to a Twitter account with the caption "WHAT KINDA DEVILISH TING IS GOING ON." Within days, the image was all over the place in social media, and American and European "news" websites featured the picture, generally with extremely trite little articles that said very little about it other than it was 'viral' on Twitter and that the reflection was strange. A few mentioned it had been posted on March 27 by a Twitter user... others don't seem to have known this.

        All of these later postings at 'news' sites generally trimmed the picture down; but not to feature the oddity in the reflection, so much as to remove the tag to the left of the picture that states "VIA 9GAG.COM." This is because 9gag.com is a site with a reputation for being funny and entertaining, but not as any sort of 'news' site; everything posted is a form of sight gag or joke. The fact that the original post was from 9gag.com and that many of the 'news' services posted it on April 1 -- traditionally know as "April Fools Day" in the United States and associated with silly pranks -- lead to most people immediately assuming the image was an altered joke from 9gag.com to begin with.

        The truth is that the selfie had been circulating for at least a year previously, but in Asian websites and languages. Apparently, someone had run across the image and posted it to 9gag.com, from where it was 'discovered' by American and European sites... but the image had not been created for 9gag.com to start with. Here's the earliest copy of the image I can trace, posted at a larger size on January 10, 2015 at a Malayan website called Babab:

Selfie original
A strange selfie indeed... [Picture source]

        Unfortunately, even a basic translation of the Babab website makes it clear that they know nothing more about the origins of the image either... they are just posting it with the same scant details as the American and European 'news' sites did nearly a year afterwards, though they do blame the effect in the picture on evil spirits and the bad idea of taking a selfie anywhere near a mirror (they recommend not doing it).

The Power of the Selfie

        Since "selfies" became a thing, there has been a definite preference for them as proof of paranormal occurrences. This is likely because of the believed chain of events of taking the selfie from a cell phone, and then posting it straight to social media as soon as an anomaly is noticed (or even before)... leading to the general feeling that they are less likely to be faked. This is, of course, an illusion; a picture can be taken from a cell phone and altered before being posted to social media, so a selfie has no particular better chance of being real than any other photo posted on the internet.

        So the picture in question could absolutely be fake; and with absolutely no background -- date taken, place, who is involved, and when they discovered it -- there is no evidence or reason that it should be anything other than a fake. Unfortunately, a weird picture alone will likely never be enough to prove a paranormal event happened. Accordingly, this instance is being marked as 'Unreliable' until such a time as more information turns up that might change this assessment. Oh, and a big "Thank You" to Eric Stratford for the Facebook message pointing this particular story out to me!

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