A creepy discussion thread, or a fine example of web creativity

Tomorrow is my birthday, and one way I’d like to celebrate is by doing something Gothic.  Like last year, when we went to the Lizzie Borden House bed and breakfast.

(If you don’t know me well, I’ve long studied Gothic lit.  That was the subject of my dissertation, some articles, two book projects, probably the most popular class I ever taught, one chronic blog, another epic blog, etc.  The Gothic and creepy stories are also a passion my wife and I share; our first date was in a cemetery, and we hope to lead a Gothic Road Trip expedition at some point.)

So being a web-centric person, I crowdsourced a question last week on the Vermont Reddit board:

What’s the creepiest spot in Vermont? from vermont

It’s normally a fairly quiet board – recall that Vermont only has just over 600,000 people, and is not a very high tech place. But this query must have come at the right time, or hit a long-buried desire, because people really cut loose, firing off 82 comments, as of this writing.

It’s a nice example of digital creativity, digital storytelling, and of a mixture of attitudes with humor.

To begin with, many people simply answered the question with good suggestions, like Satan’s Kingdom (a weird name for a small bit of a local town), Emily’s Bridge (probably the most famous such spot in the state), the so-called Bennington Triangle (multiple disappearances),the Black Cemetery in Berlin (pronounced BER-lin), the Brunswick Springs (said to be cursed), an abandoned Air Force base, and the supposedly lethal Black Agnes statue in Montpelier.

People also offered more sarcastic answers, such as the state capitol, or simply the town of Barre, or “Food City in St Albans” (“those donuts tho” “I love Food City! It’s like shopping in 1986” “Once you get used the weird smell. And don’t forget to check dates.”).  At least one was directly about real darkness: “Basically any methadone clinic.”

Some offered their own stories: made up or recollected? Hard to say:

[–]illones1985 6 points 

43°03’48.7″N 72°32’29.2″W

heard a little girl’s voice crying for her daddy at 2am come from the direction of the coordinates. there’s also an old legend about the town where this girl died in a barn fire, i believe.

Bonus: there’s a grave in the cemetary from way back when(1700’s) that we ever only found once that had a curse written on it(something along the lines of “don’t cry on my grave or i’ll come kill you”).

Or:

One posted an observation about a local marsh, and other people chimed in to explore it.

Another is either sincere, pure fiction, or a riff on some famous creepypasta:

[–]rangerscoop 4 points 

There’s that lone staircase at the base of Mount Moosalamoo on the Green Mountain NF. That’s pretty creepy. I’ve never climbed it–the hair on the back of my neck stands on end every time I’ve been near it… the stairway is alone just to the northeast of the mountain. Don’t go there. It’s awful.

Someone mentioned Smuggler’s Notch, a major mountain pass.  I asked why, and others had fun, Vermont style:

Following up one suggestion led me to the awesomely named Popple Dungeon Road (of which Vermont has two, somehow).

Why am I sharing all of this?  Partly because it’s intrinsically entertaining, at least for certain readers.  It’s not for everyone.  Horror has always been both popular and disdained, a kind of subterranean, marginal taste.

I’m also drawing attention to this Reddit story as a positive example of people using social media for collaborative creativity.  In a time when the rage is to attack social media for enabling all kinds of terrible stuff, it’s important to recall that, at the same time, people also use it for benign, even productive purposes.

(this post is for Jim Groom)

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One Response to A creepy discussion thread, or a fine example of web creativity

  1. Sandy Brown Jensen says:

    Great— I love this kind of random collective chorus on a given topic like the book one going on FB. The many voices, the humor, the sense that I am surrounded everywhere by funny, intelligent neighbors replaces the despair I usually have that “the darkness around us is deep,” and I don’t mean fun Gothic darkness, either!
    Happy Birthday, you strange and wonderful internet acquaintance!

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