If you were online in the mid-2000s, someone you know probably sent you an eBay link for a haunted wine box… Because let’s face it, when an eBay seller has Haunted in the title an description, you have to show it to someone.
The haunted box eventually ended up in the state of Missouri, about an hour north of where I live and the wine box turned out to be not so much haunted as home to a demon and thus the story of the Dybbuk Box began. There’s a movie. There’s a book. There’s interviews on a TV show (I don’t remember which show) about the box and it’s owner who agrees that something nefarious is going on with the box.
With the success of the Dybbuk Box which sold for a couple of thousands of dollars, if I remember correctly, other haunted items have shown up on eBay. Specifically dolls. For some reason there are a lot of haunted dolls. Usually they look like dolls that should be haunted.
Not surprisingly, there is a psychology behind this. First, we buy haunted things because we are naturally drawn to the items due to our curiosity. Oddly, a number of ghost skeptics have admitted they want to be proven wrong about the existence of ghosts. The Dybbuk Box was actually an anomaly. Haunted or not, people are less inclined to believe something like a wine box could house a spirit.
We are far more inclined to believe dolls are haunted. For the most part, old dolls creep us out. The older the doll, the more likely it is that we will find it creepy. In other words, today my 30 year old cabbage patch doll isn’t projecting a sense that it is creepy. Most us remember the cabbage patch rage and even though it is old, it is also commercially produced and it was trendy in recent history. In 70 years, my Cabbage Patch doll from the 1980s will most likely be creepy.
The psychology of it, goes beyond just “dolls are creepy.” When we buy the item with the label “Haunted” we set our selves up to be haunted, even if it’s just in our imagination. For instance, we have an Echo Dot. On Saturday night, I jumped from bed at 2 am to check on Lola. I would have sworn I heard Lola whining. I get into the office where the echo dot lives and where Lola usually sleeps on the futon, to find Alexa telling a knock knock joke… At 2 am. To my dog.
We had guests from out of town Saturday staying at our house. Five adult human beings and two dogs. There is no telling what Alexa thought she heard. I was the only person awake, but it’s possible she heard one of the dogs or one of the people talking in their sleep or snoring and mistook it for a command. On Friday, I was messing around with the echo dot and the last command I gave it was tell me a knock knock joke. I do this to expand my catalog of Knock Knock jokes to tell to Jude the Great Nephew. So, Alexa at 2 am on Saturday, basically repeated the last command I had given her, the day before. If I were less rational, my first instinct was not “an unseen presence commanded Alexa to tell a knock knock joke” but it could have been. I figure Lola who occasionally tosses and turns, probably hit the echo dot with her foot jarring the power cord which resulted in the repeated command.
But it isn’t hard to see how one could imagine the house haunted simply from Alexa’s late night forays into telling jokes and giving empty rooms baseball scores. Because these and playing the song Hey Jude for Jude are pretty much the extent of my echo dot usage. I feel I got distracted. The point was, that our expectations of being haunted appear to play a role in whether we are haunted or not.
It’s not limited to dolls and echo dots either. If we buy a house with the expectation it is haunted, then we are more likely to experience incidents we attribute to paranormal activity. A creaky floorboard suddenly proves to us that the haunted house is haunted when it might in fact be that the humidity has changed thereby causing an expansion or contraction of the board which made it squeak in the middle of the night, when humidity as well as temperature is prone to extreme fluctuations.
Essentially, we know that expectations contribute to things like hauntings, which is why buying anything listed as haunted is more likely to be haunted.
Of course, from my personal experiences, I can say there are still things that go bump in the night and that expectations do not account for all hauntings.