BEWARE THE INTERNET; OR, TWO FLEW OVER THE SLENDER MAN MANSION (PART 4)

 

            Sorry for the sudden break, folks.

            So, this month marked the release of the official Slender Man film. Yes, it’s finally here, and I… haven’t seen it.

            It really does feel weird, seeing that this film has been greenlit, produced, and widely released in mainstream theatres only some years after the Slender Man stabbings. In a way, it feels kinda gross. Films are no stranger to capitalizing on tragedy, and even though this one doesn’t connect itselt directly to the stabbings, to see that such a crime has been pushed aside so quickly is no doubt unnerving. Slender Man is now a joke, something representative of a fad, a rare trend that transgressed the fiction-reality border and became a motive for murder.

            Instead of dwelling on the fictional film, let’s focus on Beware the Slenderman, the HBO documentary you can thank for this entire multi-part dissection into this miasma of mental illness and internet culture and true crime. This film, this documentary, is more than looking at these two girls and asking ‘what the hell were they thinking,’ it’s more than a case study against the internet and its admittedly bizarre ecosystem, and it’s WAY more than just some parade of shame for anyone who finds Slender Man even remotely interesting. Mental illness plays a massive part in helping to understand what happened here. I’m no expert on schizophrenia, but I am somewhat experienced when it comes to isolating yourself and finding your place on the internet. Every generation is guilty of finding strange fads and inexplicable ways of coping, especially when you’re young and still figuring yourself out. Sometimes, undisturbed illnesses can be released through the strangest, and most inauspicious, places.

            The spiderweb of this entire thing spreads out into many different corners, and while fandom and internet culture and youths trying to find their place are all valid, the biggest player in this is, of course, mental illness.

            To witness the growth and furthering grip any illness can have upon a young mind is a terrifying, yet equally clandestine, phenomena. The claws that shred those vulnerable psyches can begin at random, and it seems that, in the case of Morgan Geyser, no one had noticed such changes in the young girl that only came to light some time into the eventual trial. In this case, it was schizophrenia (as stated in the documentary). I’m not sure if her accomplice, Anissa Weier, was similarly diagnosed, but given their similar sentences (locked confinement between 25-to-40 years in mental institutions) may suggest as such.

            A lot of people, I think, will turn to the same arguments as before and blame the internet and the Creepypasta Wiki for incentivizing the girls, no different to how video games like Doom and the original Postal were blamed (wrongly, in my opinion) for the Columbine shootings. And as they take up those same arms, so shall I.

            I do not believe the entire creepypasta concept is too blame, nor do I think the internet as a whole is to blame either. I believe that, both unfortunately and accidentally, unlocked something in their minds that would ultimately send them down this path. A final push over the edge, a stumbling upon the necessary enablement, a placement of a missing piece that was never to be found. As someone who has lived and dealt with someone suffering from mental illness, I know that the trigger is sometimes minute and simple and, almost always, random. Be it overworking oneself into a state of paranoia and anger, to finding a work of fiction that becomes all too consuming in one’s life, the triggers of mental illness will never be known until it is too late.

            I firmly believe this to be the case of Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier. I, of course, cannot condone what they have done. But in a sad, strange way, I can understand it.

            Next time, in the final installment, I’ll present my final thoughts, and then we can return to our regularly schedule programming.

 

            ~M.C.