Don’t Click On This Link — Don’t Visit This Website
When I was little, the only books I read were mysteries. Nancy Drew. Wishbone. The Adventures Of Mary-Kate and Ashley. I even had monthly detective kits delivered to the house, filled with fingerprint dust and invisible ink.
When I got older, I gave up my deerstalker in pursuit of a graduation cap and a degree in psychology, but mysteries remained a hobby of mine. Whenever I had a minute to breathe, I read Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie. Or I played a game.
I heard about it on Reddit, in one of the controversial sub-categories that some users have filed complaints about. One that revolves around NSFW pictures of corpses and stories from morticians, masochists, and necrophiliacs.
In bright blue letters, the title said, “Don’t click on this link.”
So, obviously, I clicked.
I was directed to a website where I got to live out my childhood dreams. All I had to do was choose a date and a location (a calendar popped up with arrows next to the month and year, along with a map of the US) and I would see photographs of a real crime scene. Blood smears on the floor. Broken glass pooled beneath the windows. Yellow tape sectioning off the area.
It was more than a game. It was an exercise. A riddle. I had to look at all the photographs and try to figure out what happened. Did someone get hurt? Did someone die? If so, who was the victim? Who was the murderer? And most importantly, why did they do it? What was their motive?
If I went decades back on the calendar, the pictures that popped onto my screen would be dark and grainy. Hard to see. Even harder to piece together clues.
But if I clicked on a more recent date, say Wednesday of last week, I’d see more than 4×6 pictures. I’d get a 360° panoramic version of the crime scene. I could click on the kitchen and poof — I was in the kitchen. I could click on an up arrow and see burn marks on the ceiling, click on a down arrow and see blood on the tiles. It was like I had stepped inside of a different world, and all I had to do was turn my neck to examine the different areas of the house.
It was fun as long as I thought of it as fiction, but once the reality set in, it felt intrusive. Immoral. Illegal?