Previously: “The River Country Film.”
I struggled with what to call this one. It doesn’t really have an official name; it appears all over the internet under a variety of titles, from “The Scariest Picture on the Internet” to “Japanese Girl’s Suicide Drawing.” (For what it’s worth, I dislike this last one intensely; I think it’s enormously insensitive.) “The Girl in the Drawing” is what I came up with; it feels right to me in a way the others don’t — it’s a little more descriptive than just “The Scariest Picture on the Internet” (which, let’s face it, could refer to a lot of things), but evocative enough to make us want to know more.
Like a lot of early creepypastas, we don’t know a lot about where this one came from. It started gaining steam in November of 2010, around the time that New York Times article I keep crediting with bringing creepypasta to my attention in the first place was published (something which continues to blow my mind — the New York Times isn’t exactly up on its internet phenomena game, and indeed is often astonishingly late to the party. It took them until 2014 to discover emoji, for example). A video featuring the drawing and its story provided the lead in that NY Times piece; however, the video the piece linked to has since been removed from YouTube — and besides, at the time the piece was published in November of 2010, there was already another video featuring the same image and story on YouTube dated several months earlier, in September. What’s more, a post on Inu’s Creepy Stuff appeared even earlier, on Aug. 17 of that year — and even earlier than that was this thread on Unexplained Mysteries, dated June 30, 2009.
Many versions of the story cite Korean websites and media as the original source, although I’ve been unable to corroborate these claims. The absolute oldest version I’ve been able to find so far, though, is the video seen here — it was uploaded to YouTube on June 11, 2006. It’s titled “SONEE: Scary Clip”; it belongs to a channel also called sonee (all uppercase letters in the video title, and all lowercase letters in the channel name). The channel was created on Nov. 11, 2005 — almost a year prior to the upload of “SONEE: Scary Clip” — and this particular video remains the only one ever uploaded to the page. I don’t know if there’s an older version—there might well be — but the bottom line is that this story is at least 10 and a half years old.
You might see this story as part of a video; you might see it simply paired with an image. Some people claim there’s a trick to it — in the case of the still image, it’s believed to actually be a GIF, and in the case of the video, well, it’s easy to edit a video such that what looks like a still image is actually an animation — but I actually think what’s going on is much simpler than that. Remember the Caputo Effect? The visual phenomenon where, if you stare at one thing for a long enough period of time, your brain starts to perceive the stimulus differently (and really, really weirdly)? I would be incredibly surprised if that wasn’t what causes the “change” in the image the story suggests we should see.
Then again, maybe it all comes down to the fact that the story tells us we should see something change in the first place. Suggestion is a powerful thing: If we’re told to expect something peculiar to happen, well, then… we’ll probably see something peculiar happen.
For the curious, the text that’s always paired with the media goes like this:
Take a look at this picture.
The story is this: In Japan, shortly before a teenage girl died by suicide, she drew this picture and posted it online. The freaky bit is this: They say it is hard for a person to stare into the girl’s eyes for longer than five minutes. There are reports that some people have taken their own lives after doing so.
People say the picture changes.
Can you tell?
Stare at her for the next five minutes.
Did you see it?