Ghost Stories

Run For Your Dear Life From These Ghosts of the 21st Century We Invented

The 'Insta-Thief' ghost, for example, is the ghost of an aspiring influencer who steals your followers on Instagram.
Ghost illustration
Illustration by Farraz Tandjoeng

Ever wonder why all our ghosts are always so old? I mean our grandparents' grandparents were probably afraid of the Kuntilanak and here we are in a totally different world still talking about this creepy undead woman in white. It got all of us here at VICE wondering, what would a new generation of ghosts look like? Most ghosts, demons, and monsters in Asia come with a dark history that doubles as a cautionary lesson for children. So our new ghosts would need relatable backgrounds linked to stuff that either scares us or makes us laugh. They would live not in our graveyards, but in our group chats and dating apps, in the digital spaces we live our lives today. And they would definitely need to be waaaay less rapey than the ghosts of our childhood. They would probably be ghosts like these:


The 'Ghosting' Ghost
It's a ghost that convinces you that your current crush is ghosting you.

Some people believe that humans live alongside other beings that we can't really see. Think of this world as one of multiple planes of existence, each one separated by the thinnest of metaphysical membranes. What if all these wifi and LTE networks were like doorways from a different plane to our own? And what if these beings—we could call them ghosts or whatever they were called in that movie Pulse where this was basically the entire plot—want nothing more than to ruin our relationships?

The "Ghosting" Ghost hides in your dating and chat apps. It disappears conversations when you haven't immediately responded. It pokes you on Facebook, and then watches as the conversation between two strangers goes nowhere. It adds a bunch of question marks to your messages ("Hey???") to leave the recipient confused and upset. And it deletes all those "hey, what's up?" messages from your ex before you can see them, making her think you're a total asshole who won't even engage, so that, weeks later, you're left completely confused when she blocks you on Instagram and refuses to say hi in public. — Yudistira Dillianzia


Illustration by Farraz Tandjoeng

The 'Why Aren't You Married Yet?' Ghost
It's a government marriage officer who just needs you to finally tie the knot.

He was a marriage officer (KUA) who was so relentless in his efforts to maintain the traditional nuclear family in Indonesia that he never took a day off. Then one day a particularly pushy mixed-faith couple came in and demanded that he marry them, regardless of the rules about marrying people of different religions in Indonesia. The shock caused his poor overworked heart to suddenly burst right there at his desk.


He's spent the afterlife as a spirit obsessed with people's marital status. If you're in a relationship that's getting pretty serious with someone outside your religion, he shows up and tries to break you up, whispering a million questions in your ear while you sleep like: how will this work, what will your neighbors say, or are you so selfish that you don't care what your parents think.

If you're single for too long, he'll appear in your bathroom mirror and tell you that you're worthless without someone else in your life. If you have sex before marriage, he will haunt you and your partner to constantly ask when you're going to get married and how many kids you're going to have. He's not really all that scary, just really, really annoying. And since the only the people he haunts can see him, he has no problem showing up during work hours, setting up his ghostly marriage documents at the empty desk near your own. — Alice

The 'Group Chat Spam' Ghost
It's a ghost that loves to clog up your notifications with scripture macros, fake news forwards, and really bad jokes.

The Group Chat Ghost, back when she was alive, was a holier-than-thou person who loooved to lecture people about the finer points of religion in her group chats. She would tell everyone in the group that she knew the scriptures best and didn't care if others weren't the same religion as her or weren't sympathetic to her views. Her words and memes were the absolute truth, the shining light to guide the nonbelievers to the right path.


One day, she was in the middle of a heated WhatsApp fight with an old friend when, distracted by the constant buzzing in her hand, she fell down a flight of stairs and died. The death was so sudden that, at first, she didn't even notice. She just continued to tap out messages on her phone, hitting forward, forward, forward.

Now, she haunts group chats, floating in to send you motivational "good morning," pictures, corny jokes, and preachy messages. She's more annoying than scary. She makes your phone constantly buzz with new alerts, only to leave you disappointed when, instead of a message from your friends, it's another photo of a flower vase on a window with the words "have a great day!". Every time a national tragedy happens, she'll forward the most-gruesome photos of dead bodies without the slightest warning beforehand.

The only time people engage is when she touches on a sensitive topic, but she refuses to back down and starts to flood your phone with verses and scriptures that she believes proves her point. If you keep pushing, she'll dig deep into her photo album of dead people and start sending those instead. The only way to finally get some peace is to remove her from your group chats (she's dead anyway, what's she still doing in there?) and block her number entirely. — Annisa Nurul Aziza

The 'Strategic Location' Ghost
It's a ghost who tries to convince you to handover a deposit for a new apartment in the suburbs that will never appear.


The scariest ghosts are the ones who hit you with something that continues to haunt for years. That's what makes the Strategic Location Ghost the most-terrifying spirit on this list. This ghost haunts the malls, hovering around a tiny model of a modern, minimalistic townhouse and a big banner advertising how this brand new complex is only "minutes from the CBD!" The ghost shows you pamphlets full of photos of bule families hanging out in CGI parks surrounded by buildings that look suspiciously like they're in New York. They tell you that all of this can be yours for a low, low downpayment, and then like 30 others before the ballon payment hits.

No, of course there's nothing to see because it hasn't been built yet, but there's a marketing office near SCBD because they want you to think that's where the house actually is, not in some field off the tollroad that's maybe in Banten, maybe in West Java, who even knows? The ghost is very, very convincing because, who doesn't want to own a home, right? And there's no way you're ever going to have enough money to buy one in the city anyway. So you sign the contracts and transfer the money and then it all disappears right before your eyes. Where's the townhouse? Where's the new satellite city? And most importantly, where's all your money? Oh, shit, what's this? Why is my new complex all over the press? What do you mean "massive corruption scandal"? —Jonathan Vit


Illustration by Farraz Tandjoeng

The 'Insta-Thief' Ghost
It's the ghost of an aspiring influencer who steals your followers.

When you're busy killing time on Instagram and suddenly a message appears telling you to login again, you might just be the victim of this social media ghost.

Legend has it this ghost was an up-and-coming influencer who was tragically swept out to sea. One day she climbed out onto a jetty in search of this mysterious seaside hotspot and the perfect selfie. The locals told her to stay off the rocks. It was dangerous, they warned. But she went ahead anyway, extended her selfie stick, set the timer, and struck the perfect Insta-model pose before her fashionable, but impractical, sandals—product placement from an endorsement deal—slipped on the rocks. She vanished into the surf before the timer even snapped an image. Her body was never recovered.

Now she haunts social media in search of the followers she never never had. She's hungry for rising Insta-celebs with tens of thousands of followers, a neat, curated feed, and an Instagram Story so long it looks like those bubbles you fill-in on exam sheets. She'll hack the account and steal your followers, each one bringing her closer to that coveted 1 million. But it's not all bad. By losing your followers, she's saving you from a lifetime of poor decisions and dangerous selfies. Sure, you could freak out about losing all those photos, but just relax. It's only Instagram. —Arzia Tivany Wargadiredja


The 'Forever OTW' Rideshare Ghost
It's a ghost that takes your order, but then constantly drives close to your pickup point, but never close enough to actually pick you up.

The Rideshare Ghost wants to get revenge on a customer who, indirectly, caused his death. It all started on a day when he was alive, but frustrated with living his life by the demands of an app. His phone glitched out and when he received his next order it was from a customer who was way too far away. His last words were typed out in the app's chat tab, "tlg cancel y mba sy jauh ni," or "sorry miss, can you cancel because I am too far away." The customer refused to answer his message, and the driver himself was too nervous about taking a hit on his ratings to cancel himself, so both of them ended up in a long standoff.

Eventually, he relented and decided to reluctantly pick the passenger up. But he's too upset to pay attention when he hit the road and he failed to notice the giant ditch on Jalan Fatmawati. He crashed and died, his final thoughts being "oh no, this will definitely affect my rating!"

Now he spends his days getting revenge. When you order a ride and the driver won't answer. When their phone doesn't even ring and they seem to driving in random circles, totally messing up the arrival counter—that's the Rideshare Ghost. He exists to waste your time. He feeds off your frustration. One moment he's a minute away, the next he's 17 minutes away. His icon on the map hops from a block away to a tollroad on the edge of the city in a matter of seconds. It goes on and on until the customer just cancels their order, freeing the Rideshare Ghost up to find a new victim.

The Rideshare Ghost is most-active during rush hour. And don't even try to avoid him. It's impossible. Just know, the next time you're fuming about a driver's lateness, take a moment and calm down. You're only making the Rideshare Ghost stronger. —Yvette Tanamal