It may seem old fashioned, but I sometimes view the internet and the real world as two separate places. Because of that, it seems weird to me when I see something as typically impact-free as a Reddit post have a very real effect on a small town, but that’s exactly what happened to the town of Mammoth, Arizona after a fictional post got taken literally.
On the social media site Reddit, a user who goes by the name Lindsey posted a story about an Ebola-like illness taking over the small town.
“Eleven days ago, on the 3rd, an older woman who runs a home daycare in my town was found dead in her bathroom by a parent who was picking up his daughter,” Lindsey wrote. “The kids were all really agitated and told police that Mrs. Booker (the deceased) had been yelling at them and bleeding from her eye before she went into the bathroom and collapsed in her bathtub.”
Lindsey goes on to say children began dying, then it spread to others around Mammoth. She said everyone who passed away experienced similar symptoms.
Adding to the panic, Lindsey wrote: “To the person calling businesses here: that is not us answering. Our downtown has been shut down all day. I called a couple places where I know the business owners and employees and the people who answered are not locals. I don’t know what they told you but they’re not from here.”
She said it was a cover-up to keep the sickness contained. But, Lindsey was about to fall victim: “I noticed a small bruise on my arm that upon further f***ing inspection spreads all the way down one side of my back. I’m so f***ing scared. I had a breakdown where I just screamed at the wall and cried and there was blood in my tears and that was like an hour ago.”
She said she needed help, and with the exposure of 1.4 million Reddit users, she got the attention she needed.
Apparently Lindsey’s posts were so well constructed that people called residents in the town to see what was up and the 911 dispatcher was inundated. Folks in the comment section also began to corroborate and expound upon the claims.