DEAD LETTERS: Text Messages From The Dead
July 2, 2015 69 Comments
by Tony Harrington
The technology that powers our smart devices is one of the fastest advancing technologies ever. Many of us remember the days before text messaging when the only thing cellular phones could do was make and receive calls.
Then came voicemail, text messaging, games (Snake anyone?), multimedia messaging, camera technology, and faster processors. Now, phones are mostly handheld computers that allow us to communicate with one another without ever having to make a call.
In fact, it is probably a safe assumption to assume that a majority of people prefer texting or interacting on social media sites versus actually having a vocal conversation.
It should come as no surprise then that, in this day and age, more and more people are reporting that their cell phones are being used as a means through which the dead can communicate.
I was not aware this was a thing until I had mentioned to someone at work that I am a paranormal investigator and that I maintain this blog. As is always the case, this opened up a line of dialogue, mostly filled with “what if” scenarios, until the person eventually feels comfortable enough to present me with a personal experience they have had and ask for my opinion on just what it is they are experiencing.
In the case of my co-worker, she had come into possession of her mother’s old iPhone when her mother died. Because she had no need for the phone, she allowed her young daughter to have it as a toy as the daughter was not yet old enough to be given an actual functioning phone.
One night, after my co-worker and her husband had put their daughter to bed, the young girl came into their room and said that the phone was making weird noises.
The phone was not on a data plan and there was no service. It did have a wi-fi capabilities, but allegedly they had never connected the phone to the wireless router. The only thing the phone could do, according to my co-worker, was play certain games that didn’t require an internet connection.
The father takes the girl back to bed and checks the phone. The noise the young girl had been hearing was a text alert. There was three messages on the phone.
The messages came across with a three minute pause between each message. The text message was received by a phone number made up of all nines.
Now, there are many reasons this could happen. The internet is filled with many sites that allow you to send an SMS message to someone’s phone as long as you know the number. But the phone technically requires the number to be active for the message to be received. According to my co-worker, the number had not been active for three months.
To test this theory, we dialed the phone number thought to be disconnected. While it did not ring, it did go straight to voicemail. After the voicemail picked up the co-worker said, “That is strange”.
That evening, after work, my co-worker texts me to let me know the phone got another text message. This one said “Strange”.
Immediately I realized what was happening.
It seemed that calls to the disconnected phone number were being forwarded to voicemail, a separate number apparently, and callers were leaving messages. Those messages were being transcribed by an app on the phone and delivered to the phone via an installed messenger service sort of like visual voicemail.
My co-worker called the voicemail and heard the four messages that were delivered by text. She recognized the last message as the one we left, but she swears that the three other messages sound just like her mother who passed prior to the dates the messages were left.
There are some wildcard variables to take into consideration:
I can’t say for certain that the phone is not connected to some wi-fi connection. I am not personally there when these events happened.
I don’t know what my co-worker’s mother sounds like so I can authenticate the voice on the voicemail as belonging to the deceased woman
It is possible to spoof/mask numbers, so the calls could be coming from someone the family knows or from the family themselves to perpetuate this story.
As a fan of Andorid OS, I can say with certainty, I have no idea how the iPhone works or if what I suspected about how the texts were delivered is even possible using the iPhone.
It should also be noted that the young daughter is ten, and quite tech savvy, as most young kids are these days having grown up with the technology.
I share this story only as a way to introduce the topic of a modern paranormal phenomenon that I call “Texts From the Dead”; an obvious homage to the old school “Phone Calls From the Dead”.
Classifying this phenomenon, if it is indeed real and happening is somewhat difficult. It is definitely displaying signs of an intelligent haunting; interacting with technology and those who use it. It also seems a modern twist on “Electronic Voice Phenomenon”; the ability to catch disembodied voices responding to questions on an audio recording device.
Additionally, cell phones contain built-in dictionaries. How else do they know how to jack up your intended message with hilarious auto-correct fails? There are apps that have been developed based on the notion that the dead can manipulate the phone’s dictionary to pull words with which to respond to questions. So, it is not uncommon for people to use their phones as a means by which to communicate with those who have passed on.
In researching this article, I was surprised to see that this phenomenon has stories dating back a few years, some as far back as the early 2000s. It would seem that since the advent of the ability to make and receive texts, the dead have been taking advantage of it.
It is still fascinating to see the rise of a new type of paranormal activity, though it remains to be seen if these cases are valid, or simply wishful thinking.
There are many reasons weird text messages could show up on your phone. Pocket texts, the silent version of the pocket-dial can result in some creepy messages from potentially unknown numbers. The ability to compose messages using speech-to-text could cause weird messages to show up on your phone, some of the random words could have significant meaning for you and hence you draw a parallel between a random rogue message and a significant aspect of someone who has died.
Some instances of Texts From the Dead come about not from actual received messages, but random notes left on a user’s phone. Notes they did not type but somehow occupy a text box.
These are easier to explain away though as the message originated on the users phone and could be a prank, a voice-to-text feature being unknowingly activated and capturing random bits of dialogue, a phone in a pocket or a purse being jostled around enough to create a message of some sort.
Regardless of how the messages got on the phone, there is a certain subset of people, and that subset grows every day as people encounter this bizarre phenomenon, who believe that they are receiving texts from those who have passed on. I have always said, that even if I don’t believe that ghosts are the culprit, it is very real to those who encounter something they deem paranormal, and I respect them enough to listen and try to determine just what is happening.
Are the living receiving messages from beyond the grave through modern technology? What do you think? Have you encountered texts from the dead? Please share your story in our comments section.