On a calm, otherwise non-descript afternoon in outer suburbia, as children were still coming home from school and social media influencers were out walking their pampered pooches for their afternoon photo opportunities, a scene some compared to the chapters in religious texts played out on a grassy nature strip beside a typical, pot-holed, poorly maintained suburban road.
"It's forever burned into my memory", one onlooker said. "Last time I was this traumatised was when the Best Picture award at the recent Oscars was announced. Something that should not be. It's unnatural."
In something reminiscent of a B-grade horror flick or something produced by Cannon Films, witnesses described how the bush, appearing to be just one more piece of illegally discarded green waste from a house garden, rose unsteadily on its "legs" soon after a social media influencer encouraged their well-known local Instagram dog to relieve itself on a nearby power pole. Then, as the dog and it's human companion turned to flee, it stopped beside that same pole and made an action that many described as "lifting its leg to take a piss".
"I mean, there wasn't any actual piss as such, but you could see it trying", said a shocked viewer. "I didn't want to watch, of course, but then you're just standing there in expectation like 'will it do it? Can it do? If I move will it run away before I can take a picture?'. Mesmerising is what it is. And then it just collapsed and went back to being dead. Weird is what it is."
"This is a huge discovery, I can't begin to tell you how much"
While many are still coming to terms with the idea of a dead shrub rising from the dead, scientists are focused on a much more important question, one that could lead to some long sort after answers as to how our brains work. As one noted scientists mentioned, “I mean, who cares about it rising from the dead? Or walking? The real mystery is in why a tree would be trying to piss on a post at all.”
"This is such a huge discovery, I can't begin to tell you how much", the lead scientist who attended the scene informed us excitedly. When we interviewed another scientist who said that they could begin to tell us how much, they added that "There's so many questions. It's not just that the bush got up. It is the whole series of events that opens a new door for research into what impact social media influencers have, not just on our purchasing habits, but on the defecation habits of the living dead for example."
At the moment no-one is sure of the exact method of how the social media influencer and their dog caused the dead tree to live again, but few experts doubt that it was the actions of the dog that caused the bush to exhibit such toilet behaviour. In the aftermath though, a new theory of social influence has been created, and while it may be early days, it's said to show a lot of promise in explaining the near paranormal pull of these social media influencers.
In the example of the dead bush, the power of influence becomes apparent. By actively encouraging those nearby, the new social media influencer theory hypothesises that the social media influencer generates an automatic, subconscious push that tries to get everyone nearby to follow their example; whether that be to get fit, travel, or walk the dog. Such urgings, according to theory, is what made the shrub stand up and walk around, and when the influencer asked the dog to pee, the bush could do nothing but follow the suggestion. The level of influencer seems to be also proportional to the number of Followers they have. Further proof is demonstrated by the fact the bush returned to its non-living state when the social media influencer moved away, thus leaving the bush outside their sphere of influence.
There are many questions that remain however. This is the first time the power of social media influencers has been witnessed outside of the internet, and the parallels with pop artists and reality TV show stars is an avenue of exploration. And what isn't yet explained is what was the actual physical method used to influence a non-living entity; is it paranormal, is it magical, technological? Any of these could be the mechanism, and laboratories have sent out calls to social media influencers who are willing to submit themselves to tests and/or autopsies to help find out. As of yet though, no one has come forward.
But while the excitement is spreading amongst the scientific community, for many it's a frightening development and a warning sign of the growing impact on society. No one had before even considered the possibility that social media would impact on the dead, and alarm bells are now ringing for many that it may be even worse for the living. Although the full impact, or mitigation, has not yet been explained via this theory, there have been growing calls to limit the growth of social influencers as a precaution, with many Change.org petitions calling for registers and accreditation to be set up to track these social media influencers. And their little Instadogs too.
What will come of these strange times and events is not yet clear. But what is clear is that governments need to start paying attention and fund further research. While a shrub urinating against a pole may not seem much, how long will it be before we see beached, dead wales sitting in shallow waves looking at the sunset? Can our tourism industry weather such a storm, even if it's a Twitter one?