Slenderman Made Me Do It
A new, faceless horror threatens to wreak havoc on our lives by stalking and killing children, and is now influencing previously innocent youths to kill. The being resembles a tall, slim, featureless man, often depicted with tentacles protruding from his back. It is known as Slenderman, and while many believe otherwise, it does not exist. Though the creature is fictional, its influences are chillingly real. In a desire to make a sacrifice to Slenderman, two preteen girls in Wisconsin stabbed their peer 19 times in a cold-blooded murder attempt. Soon after, a 13-year-old girl in Ohio waited for her mother dressed as Slenderman and stabbed her when she returned home.
As horrifying as it sounds, the recent attempted killings in the name of the mythological creature Slenderman are not the first of their kind. Since the dawn of humanity, people have performed sacrificial murders to appease God(s), mythological beings, and other supernatural beings, forces, and creatures. Surprisingly, these sacrificial killings still happen in the modern world. In 2013, a man in India brutally murdered his own 8-month-old son to appease the Hindu goddess Kali. In Canada in 2009, a man on a Greyhound bus stabbed and killed his seat neighbor, a complete stranger, because “God told him to.”
The most recent examples of the desire to appease a being via human sacrifice occurred within a month of each other and were motivated by a desire to please Slenderman. Perhaps my age put me just outside the generation talking about this creepy, lanky stalker as I had not heard of it prior to the recent crimes. I learned that Slenderman was created by Eric Knudson, also known by the alias Victor Surge. Slenderman was born of Surge’s imagination in 2009 in a photo contest on the website Something Awful. After delving into who or what Slenderman is, I wish his name still remained unbeknownst to me. Now that my mind is constantly plagued with images of the terrifying, mythological man I desire nothing more than to share this “joy” with others.
As previously mentioned, Slenderman resembles, as his name suggests, a tall, slim man with no face, often depicted with tentacles protruding from his back though there is a debate among enthusiasts as to whether or not the tentacles exist. Apparently, Slenderman’s objectives are highly mysterious but include kidnapping and murdering children. He supposedly lurks in the darkness of forests, but spends a good deal of time stalking people. When he is near an individual, they are said to come down with “The Sickness,” with symptoms including coughing up blood, vomiting, nausea, and a sudden onset of paranoia among other things that make the flu sound pleasant. For more information on “The Sickness,” you can’t turn to WebMD, but there is more information on the Slenderman Wikia page. Too bad most pharmacies don’t offer a vaccination for that one. Isn’t all of this information pleasant?
Stories about sightings of the creepy creature are more common on the Internet than sightings of Bigfoot. Individuals who claim to have seen Slenderman or have been personally targeted by him, chat back and forth on online forums such as the Slenderman Wikia. One contributor to said forum commented, “Is it weird that I have this obsession with The Slenderman… I mean it feels as if I had another life because I would get these weird dreams where I am in another time period and He is beside me, and i don’t react to Him being there plus I don’t really even remember most of my childhood which how many can say that.” Believe it or not, that is one of the least creepy posts. There is also a myriad of photos and disturbing YouTube videos portraying Slenderman, most of which I do not suggest perusing before bedtime.
Now, all of this was um… “good, innocent fun” until the incidents involving the girls in Wisconsin and Ohio. Because of the premeditated nature of the attack by the 12-year-olds, they are being charged as adults, whereas the 13-year-old Ohio girl suffers mental health issues according to her mother and is being charged as a juvenile. Their heinous, blood-curdling acts clearly demonstrate the impressionability of today’s youth, who seem to be growing up at a faster rate than any preceding generation. Unfortunately, with the amount of young children able to access the Internet, it’s no surprise that they will come across disturbing and potentially influential material at some point or another.
This being, born of the Internet, has somehow morphed into a twisted Urban legend with an immense number of people legitimately believing in its existence. It is frightening that people seem to forget that Slenderman was clearly created on the Internet by a man’s imagination, and even has an exact date of origin that can be pinpointed. In fact, some place the blame of the recent crimes on Eric Knudson, who says Slenderman was more or less a spontaneous creation stemming from other pictures he saw on the Something Awful forum. He began to create photo-shopped images featuring the tall, creepy being and accompanying captions. This caught on, and many internet users began doing the same.
It differs from the prior concept of the urban legend in that it is on the Internet, and this both helps and harms the status of the Slender Man as one. In my personal opinion, an urban legend requires an audience ignorant of the origin of the legend. It needs unverifiable third and fourth hand (or more) accounts to perpetuate the myth. On the Internet, anyone is privy to its origins as evidenced by the very public Something Awful thread. But what is funny is that despite this, it still spread.
-Eric Knudson, creator of Slenderman
Creepypasta is one of the many sites featuring campfire-like tales of Slenderman. The page on Creepypasta dedicated to Slenderman starts off with a brief explanation of what it is. “The Slender Man is an alleged paranormal figure purported to have been in existence for centuries, covering a large geographic area. Believers in the Slender Man tie his appearances in with many other legends around the world, including; Fear Dubh (or, The Dark Man) in Scotland, the Dutch Takkenmann (Branch Man), and the German legend of Der Großmann or Der Grosse Mann (the Tall Man).” After the two recent violent acts inspired by the creature, the administrator of the site spoke up.
The site clearly states the stories are fiction and its rules bar use by anyone under 13.
-Creepypasta site administrator David Morales
In fact, I just had to verify that I am over 18 in order to enter the site, which now features a post expressing the horrors of its users regarding the recent crimes. Generally, there is nothing wrong with the draw of the idea of mysterious and unknown beings lurking amongst us, but knowing how to differentiate fact from fiction is paramount. To prevent similar attacks in the future, parents and educators should take action by ensuring that their children know the difference between reality, Urban legend, and other forms of fabrication. This once again emphasizes the importance of monitoring the online activity of young people with impressionable minds.
Marisa Mostek (@MarisaJ44) loves globetrotting and writing, so she is living the dream by writing while living abroad in Japan and working as an English teacher. Marisa received her undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado in Boulder and a certificate in journalism from UCLA. Contact Marisa at staff@LawStreetMedia.com.
Featured Image Courtesy of [Lu1uLemon via deviantart]