This article was contributed to Myria by a teenage girl (using a pseudonym) who is very active in online adolescent culture. Here, she explains the origin of Slenderman and Creepypasta, and gives her perspective on the fascination her peers have with these memes, and offers some suggestions on talking to your kids about the stories.
Due to the recent terrible stabbing attack of a 12-year-old girl by two of her classmates, you may have the words “Creepypasta” and “Slenderman” echoing from your TV and computers.
But what exactly is the Slenderman? And, for that matter, what is a “Creepypasta”?
by Mary Rose
This article should help you understand the basics of both, and offer some ideas about what to do if you find your child is interested in Creepypasta and Slenderman.
What is Creepypasta?
Since Creepypastas began before the Slenderman, we’ll start there. The word “Creepypasta” originates from the invented word “copypasta” — a play on “copypaste,” that is, messages that were copied and pasted into emails and forums and spread around the internet.
Creepypastas, in the beginning, were fairly basic chain-letter type messages you have probably received: “Copy and send this email to 10 friends, or else the ghost of the murdered girl will kill you in 3 days!!!” It was mainly started as spam and to scare others, not much else.
However, over time, Creepypastas became a bit more than horror-themed spam messages — they become stories of their own. Folklore, fairy tales, urban legends… the same kinds of creepy stories you grew up with, but these new tales were able to spread much father and faster than many stories you heard when you were young. The main difference between the stories you may have heard and Creepypastas is that they are updated, and include more modern ideals. And as those stories grew, so did websites dedicated to the stories. Creepypasta.com, the Creepypasta wikia page, and similar pages started to appear around the web, including the /nosleep/ page on Reddit.com.
An extremely well-written statement from Creepypasta.com that was posted June 3 offers some more explanation:
“Creepypasta is not solely dedicated to horror and murder or revenge fantasies, despite what some media outlets claim. They come up, of course – but so do ghosts, zombies, angels, mythology, urban legends, conspiracies, lost civilizations, aliens and sci-fi, vengeful deities, as well as real-world struggles, sorrows, and dangers. It’s a wide umbrella of inspiration, to be sure, but I’m sure that anyone who has ever browsed the horror or paranormal or sci-fi sections of a library or bookstore has noticed just how vast the possibilities are within those genres.”
So now that you know how the genre got started, we can discuss one of the most, if not the most, popular Creepypastas of all time — the Slenderman.
Who is Slenderman?
According to the Slenderman “folklore”, the Slenderman (or Slender Man) is supposedly an ancient creature who has lived for centuries, with some stories claiming that the Slenderman was here even before humankind. Now, since the stories can vary (as any stories do), what follows is the basic format for the Slenderman that is pretty consistent throughout all of his stories.
The Slenderman is, as you may have guessed, is a tall and abnormally thin figure, looking similar to a human. It’s said that he wears a simple suit with a red tie, and that his face is chalk-white, smooth, and completely blank. Blank, as in he has no eyes, nose, ears, or mouth – or hair, for that matter.
As the stories go, the Slenderman is a silent abductor who typically preys on the young; specifically children within the age ranges of around 5 to 12, and will stalk them wherever they are, whether or not they are alone or in a group.
This demon-like creature will usually hang around until his “victim” becomes paranoid, with people guessing that this either entertains him or gives him more power. They say he seems to “float” or walk very ghostly, then transport to wherever he wants. There are varying other factors that can “appear,” including a set of 48 black tendrils, hats, scarves, and suit designs.
The actual story of the Slenderman began in 2009, when Eric Knudsen/”Victor Surge” created the character on a online forum that where people posted various black and white photographs “included” (by “included,” I mean “photoshopped”) pictures of the Slenderman with children in various places.
Pictures including or showing the Slenderman are usually captioned with a statement that the child or children in the picture with him soon vanished, or were simply were never seen again. And as anything online can go, it became very popular, and quickly grew a massive fanbase all over the internet.
Cosplay (short for “costume play”), artwork, books, websites, video games — and, of course, more stories — spawned all over the web, introducing more people to the tale of the Slenderman. The same year of the Slenderman was created, a video series in the style of found footage was created about the Slenderman.
Later, in 2011, the Slenderman stories had a resurgence when a video game was created involving the character, which many popular online gamers eventually played and spread to their own fanbases. Both the series and video game became incredibly successful, and more of each based on the Slenderman are planned for each.
Scary stories and your kids
The attack that the two young girls carried out on their schoolmate was apparently a sacrifice, or a tribute, to Slenderman. They thought that if they killed someone, they could become “proxies” of Slender Man, and go live with him in his forest mansion.
Due to that incident, you may be worried about a number of things: If my child read this story, is there a chance they will commit a violent act, too? Can they become the victim of someone else who believes in the Slenderman? If I find my child reading the Slenderman stories or any Creepypasta, should I be worried, take precautions, or stop them?
Here’s the thing: the Slenderman is a extremely popular story, with the originals and variations having been told thousands of times to millions of people, in all age ranges. The tales hold our interest the same way stories about fairies, ghosts, aliens and mythical creatures have fascinated us for millennia. It engages our imaginations and gives us a safe way to cope with our own worst fears. There’s also that whole love for the idea that “we are not alone.”
To quote again from Creepypasta.com’s statement, “I think that most of you will understand when I say it’s hard to justify pinning blame on an entire genre of writing. Unless you’re okay with blaming the world’s ills on Stephen King or HP Lovecraft, I don’t believe that it makes sense to say paranormal writing or an interest in the macabre should be blamed or even used as an indicator of a ‘sick’ person (as a few emails have already felt the need to call both myself and all the authors here). The human race has long held and encouraged a fascination with things that go bump in the night.”
Still, it’s only recently that the Slenderman character’s made headlines.
To me, this says that — apart from the actions of some young, gullible kids with really poor judgement — it’s safe to assume that the stories themselves are not the cause of violence. (Editor’s note: In a scientific analysis, a Purdue University sociologist noted, “We know that the quality of the parent-child relationship is a good predictor of whether a teenager will participate in delinquent behavior.”)
If you’re planning to tell your son or daughter not to read Creepypasta or Slenderman stories anymore, you should check out some of the stories for yourself to get a firsthand understanding. It will be hard for your kids to respect your request if they think you’re just being judgmental and reactionary and don’t actually know what the stories are like.
My advice is that if you decide to talk to your children about these topics, make it very very clear that they will not get in trouble if they have been reading these things.
Depending on the ages of your kids, you can describe it differently, but remind them that that the stories are not real, and that you know some kids can get upset or scared from reading them. When you tell them why you worry about those stories, discuss it in a loving, friendly way. You want to make sure you feel comfortable that they can truly separate reality from fantasy.
Go on to explain that if they get worried or start thinking about the violent aspects of the stories, that it’s okay. That if they do have dark thoughts of any kind, they can talk to you, and they will not be judged for having that curiosity or thinking about those kinds of things.
If your children feel they will get in trouble for explaining their feelings to you, they won’t tell you the truth, even if they really want to. Otherwise, kids may feel trapped — because these are stories they find interesting, but they know they can get into trouble for reading them.
Realize, though, that if you forbid them or make yourself a negative presence, those stories may become all the more appealing to escape to and think about. (Depending on your child and your relationship, the fact that you know what the stories are and have read some of them might go a long way toward making them no longer interesting.)
Your conversation can go any number of ways, but as long as you make sure that they know the stories are fake, and that the actions taken in them can be dangerous in real life, there shouldn’t be a problem.
Offer other options
If you truly want them to stop reading the online stories, it’s a good idea to see if they are interested in other stories.
If they like horror, there are already many scary stories for children out there in a number of mediums that, while still scary, are less graphic then online stories. “Cold turkey” methods won’t benefit anyone in the long run, so it’s best to work with what you have, rather than trying to pretend it doesn’t exist. That works about as well as believing that shoving all your dirty clothes in the closet will actually make your room “clean.”
Now, if your child is violent or seems upset daily and is often reading these stories, still talk to them — but you really need to work on finding the real problem behind the influences. Whether or not it’s a mental illness, a reaction to a traumatic experience, or both, those are things can influence their actions. Creepypastas — or really any stories, games, movies or TV shows that encourage them to act aggressively — are just signs that there’s something something else wrong. If that’s the case, you need to find out what is going on in his or her life, and help to fix it.
What is incredibly important is that make it clear to your kids that they can trust you without (much) judgment, and share dialogue with you, so that you and your child — no matter the story — can live happily ever after.
Creepypasta wiki statement
A statement entitled Fiction, Reality, and You was posted by creepypasta.wikia.com staffer Sloshedtrain on June 3, 2014:
I guess I need to address this because it is now relevant. If you haven’t heard already, two 12-year-old Wisconsin girls attempted to murder one of their classmates because they were inspired by the Slenderman mythology. I won’t go much into details, so here is the article of the story.
According to the story, the girls read about Slenderman here on this wiki, and of course the usual response lead to hostility and blaming towards the wiki by some “very concerned parents.” Some calling for the censorship and shutdown of the wiki.
Will these people succeed on their quest? Most likely not. These are the same people who think violent video games help create mass murderers, because it is convenient to blame and point fingers.
Besides the backlash, this incident shows what happens when the line of fiction and reality ceases to exist. When a person truly believes that Internet short stories are cold hard facts. When a person attempts to replicate works of fiction to the point others are harmed. And for this, I’m going to make myself loud and clear:
ALL WORKS PRESENTED ON THIS WIKI AND OTHER SITES (INCLUDING SLENDERMAN, JEFF THE KILLER, BEN, SONIC.EXE, ETC) ARE FICTIONAL STORIES AND CHARACTERS
Of course, only a small minority of people (mostly newcomers) on the wiki (and the Internet) truly believe what they read here. And for most people, they will not attempt to replicate atrocities presented in some of the literature on the wiki. Something like this was bound to happen, considering the size of the Creepypasta community. All it takes is one person to do something insane and radical in the name of someone or something.
This is an isolated incident, and does not represent or attribute the Creepypasta community as a whole. This wiki does not endorse or advocate for the killing, worship, and otherwise replication of rituals of fictional works. There is a line of between fiction and reality, and it is up to you to realize where the line is. We are a literature site, not a crazy satanic cult.
For most of you reading this, you’re probably thinking this is a no-brainier that stories here are mere fiction and know that they are just mere fiction. This blog addresses to newcomers and “die-hard believers”, who will otherwise, likely to believe in these stories.
Hopefully, the gruesome crime that happened in Wisconsin will not repeat itself again, and our hearts go out to the families affected by this crime.