An otherwise unremarkable snapshot of Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence, his wife Karen, and his daughter Charlotte in a Chili's restaurant in New York City has garnered more than its fair share of buzz because Charlotte Pence's reflection seems to be "missing" from the mirror beside their table.
At first glance, the scene does seem odd. The back of Karen Pence's head is visible, and Pence himself can be seen in semi-profile in the mirror, but not a trace of Charlotte Pence, who is seated right beside her father, is reflected.
Predictably, social media speculation ranged from the conspiratorial to the paranormal:
@mike_pence @Chilis Photoshopped? Daughter has no food or reflection in the mirror.
— Michael Richardson (@Michaelcvusd) July 18, 2016
@mike_pence @Chilis @cheflife206 I'm either tripping, or his daughter is a ghost. She has no reflection in the mirror. #TheHauntedElection
— Mr. Nelson (@Mister_Seattle) July 18, 2016
Is your daughter a vampire @mike_pence
— Pookleblinky (@pookleblinky) July 17, 2016
@mike_pence@Chilis the chick on the left of Pence is a ghost.......creepy......
— holly wilson (@hwilson2009) July 17, 2016
Some bemused commenters felt compelled to express their puzzlement in diagram form:
But the general tone of this chatter was humorous and lighthearted, thankfully. Few, if any, of the users who shared and commented on the photo seemed seriously concerned about what was obviously an optical illusion — that, simply put, given the angle of view and the relative positions of Pence and his daughter in relation to the mirror, we can't see Charlotte Pence because her father is between her and us in the reflected line of sight.
So, why all the fuss? One likely explanation is that after a week full of truly horrific news — the terrorist attack in Nice, the police killings in Baton Rouge — the Internet just needed to blow off steam. Maybe it needed something harmless and non-threatening to obsess about, however silly. Oftentimes, stress relief can be found where you least expect it, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Mike Pence was expected to be confirmed as Donald Trump's running mate during the 2016 Republican National Convention, which kicked off Monday, 18 July 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.