A peculiar website, thisman.org, is asking everyone if they have ever dreamed of a certain unknown man (pictured below in an artistic rendering). The story goes that in 2006 a psychiatrist’s patient – name and location not given – dreamed of this man several times and created a picture of him for some reason and gave the drawing to her psychiatrist. For some reason. This man had given her helpful advice in her dreams, so I guess she figured this had therapeutic implications. For some reason.
When another patient spotted the picture, he recognized the guy as someone who had appeared in his dreams, too. This doesn’t seem like a very compelling coincidence to me (“I see balding unibrows in my sleep!”), but the psychiatrist decided to distribute the picture to colleagues to find out if their patients were seeing the same man in their dreams. Supposedly, over an unspecified period of time, 2000 people reported recognizing “This Man” from their dreams. Hence the website.
I’m guessing this is viral marketing for an upcoming indie movie involving dreams, capitalizing on the mysterious success of Inception. Tip-offs:
- There would be no reason for the patient to remain anonymous, but even if she simply wanted to avoid the embarrassment of asking a stupid question, she could have come up with a pseudonym to make the story seem less generic and questionable. It has a definite urban myth flavour to it.
- We don’t know who these 2000 people are or how their recognition of This Man entered the data stream. Are they all psychiatric patients? Did they come forward on their own, or were they specifically asked if they recognized the guy? Who’s collating the dream sightings?
- This man looks like a lot of other men. In fact just this week alone I think I’ve seen this guy driving a cab, eating a churro, and arguing with his wife over whether to see Black Swan or The Green Hornet. She won.
- This man looks somewhat like a celebrity stalker. If he gave me advice in my dreams, I would probably ignore it.
- The website makes this “enigma” seem far more intriguing and mysterious than it really is. This man doesn’t have any stand-out features like wings or glowing eyes. He just, um, shows up in your dreams and maybe says some stuff that you can’t fully remember in the morning. Barely worth the trouble of creating a website. Even as a viral gimmick, it kind of sucks. Now if Stephen King was chasing you on a tricycle until you turned into a pile of Wheaties, that would maybe be worth the effort.
Update: I was close, but not quite there. This Man is actually a hoax concocted by Italian marketer Andrea Natella of Guerilla Marketing. It doesn’t seem to be connected to any specific project; Natella sometimes just creates viral content for the hell of it, and was a part of the Luther Blissett Project.