In the year of our spaghetti monster 2014, two middle school girls from Waukesha, Wisconsin, Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, attempted to stab and murder their friend. They’ve been diagnosed with schizophrenia and have been sentenced to spend the majority of their lives in mental institutions.
Look, as much as I love horror movies and anything violent and gruesome, this really just takes the absolute wind out of my sails. Murder is, and always will be, a horrible thing, and to see it even just attempted by two young girls like this is ultimately, incredibly, depressing. I don’t take joy in turning on the news to see what stupid shit a politician has said or how many people has died in the latest mass shooting or anything like that. I, hard as it may be to believe, am human and can only take so much before I eventually end up in a shitty state of mind. This, also, may come off as hypocritical since I’ve decided to delve into this topic and devote some number of hours writing posts about it. And yeah, I get that too. The irony is not lost.
I’m no psychological expert. I’m not a true crime fanatic or some kind of amateur sleuth. No, I’m a guy with a blog. But I’m also someone who, weirdly enough, kinda gets the madness behind all of this. It’s hard to pinpoint, but bear with me.
Whenever I look at this whole mess, a common theme starts showing up: isolation. Isolation is something I know a bit too well for, well, reasons. Mentions of things like Reddit and 4chan and YouTube just sends memories flooding back, and I can think of so many times when I let my life and my internet activities crossover in weird and regrettable ways. Something that comes up a lot in the documentary about this case, Beware the Slenderman, is the girls’ shared preoccupation with the internet. They were obviously on the internet on such a level that they became part of that miasma of in-jokes and memes that makes up popular internet culture. And it was to the point that the very fine that separates that meme-centric life and the real world bled into each other; this phenomenon is backed up in the hours and HOURS of cringe compilations that’re out there, mocking the social inept/awkward who’ve spent so much time online that it’s become their only solace. This more or less leads back to the numerous bizarre stories of how the internet can become the religion for so many backwards youth.
Nowhere near as extreme as this case, but certainly infamous in internet terms, is the Final Fantasy VII House, a story about people being so obsessed with the video game Final Fantasy VII that certain individuals used it to manipulate the mentally ill and emotional vulnerable to strange degrees. In short, a pair of fans began preying on people by claiming that their souls were linked to those of characters from the game as part of an internet-born meme religion called ‘soulbonding,’ itself part of the ‘otherkin’ phenomena. I sincerely recommend watching this video by the ever-excellent Frederik Knudsen as part of his Down the Rabbit Hole documentary webseries for a better understanding.
I bring up this separate case to illustrate a point: the internet is a powerful thing. It seems to be widely agreed upon that Geyser and Weier both had become so entrenched in the creepypasta phenomenon that it started to infect their real-word lives to a fault. This, compounded by their unchecked/undiagnosed mental illnesses, created a cocktail of disaster and delusion that resulted, almost, in the death of an innocent. These girls were so isolated in their consumption of this trend that they, willingly or not, let it rule their lives and individual senses of judgement.
It’s sad to think that something so stupidly harmless could lead to something like this.
Next time, I hope to delve into cases of internet mindlessness bleeding into the real world, as a way of showing just how dangerous this black hole can be. Maybe if we can understand that, we can understand why this happened.