I was about fourteen-fifteen years old when I learned about Slender Man.
If you were to ask me about creepypastas, I’d probably laugh and take a moment before answering. I can recall all too well the hours upon hours spent digging through the Creepypasta Wiki, trying to find the latest in internet scary stories. My friends and I would spook each other silly by discussing the possibility of Squidward’s Suicide being real, or the validity of any of those haunted video game cartridges, like BEN DROWNED, or even the legend of Polybius, the arcade game that allegedly caused hallucinations in its players. Some of these stories were born of this phenomenon; others are rediscovered or given their current power through it. But make no mistake: the creepypasta is here to stay.
Like anyone cringing at their high school Juggalo days or those college years where one would listen to nothing but Soulja Boy or Chamillionaire, I burn with embarrassment whenever I think back to the days when I used to believe the Lavender Town myth (for the unaware, this was an urban legend about the original Pokémon games, specifically the area of Lavender Town and a hidden frequency in its theme music that gave Japanese children seizures), or I used to hungrily devour YouTube videos trying to find the real Suicidemouse.avi or the aforementioned Squidward’s Suicide. I’ll admit it, I wanted some of these to be legitimate. I remember very much thinking the oft-debunked Russian Sleep Experiment being too legit of a story to have been faked. But then again, this is the internet. Who knows where most of this shit came from?
Creepypastas have now gone the way of lolcats, Fail Blog, early Newgrounds, and so much more as a tidal wave of popularity now looked back upon with both embarrassment and skewed fondness. Internet denizens will no doubt be able to look back on many of these fads with not quite rose-tinted glasses, but something probably close to it. The internet, being the forever evolving meme machine it is, can be hard to keep up with. But that doesn’t mean that these old school trends have been lost forever. The Creepypasta Wiki remains active, with a die-hard fanbase still rocking away at its core.
So, why am I bringing all of this up? Context, mostly.
I recently watched the HBO documentary Beware the Slenderman, which covered the aftermath of the now-infamous Slender Man stabbing. In Waukesha, Wisconsin, back in 2014, two twelve-year-old girls, Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, attempted to murder their friend in an effort to appease the fictional Slender Man. Initially, I had trouble sitting down and committing to watching it, mostly out of this hardcore inner cringe arising in me. I remember hearing about the story when it first broke some years ago, and I remember thinking about how stupid it was: two girls attempting murder for a creepypasta. Ask any heartless 4chan anon or Reddit troll and you’ll probably get a reaction dripping with sick humour. If anything, this is where that popular young-person phrase ‘do it for the meme’ would probably get brought up as a sick joke. And to be fair, on the outset, this does look to be a ridiculous situation that anyone familiar with these internet folktales.
Right from the get-go, this was a tough watch. Not only because I remember looking back on those years of being neck-deep in this stuff, but to just try and imagine why this all seemed like a good idea to these two girls was confusing and exhausting. But it soon became a tough watch for a different reason. Because I soon started understanding why this horrible thing happened.
For the next few posts, I want to delve into this topic. Now, I typically don’t like trigger warnings, but I will just point out that we’ll be getting into topics like loneliness/isolation, mental illness, the dark side of the internet, and details pertaining to this very real case. It’ll be mostly my opinions and reflections upon this subject, but I will try to remain somewhat objective on the realities of the case.
I know it won’t be fun. But bear with me. We might learn something.