Slender Man, a blurred line between fiction and reality
With a movie coming out later this year and a highly publicised court case labelled ‘The Slender Man Stabbings’, now is the perfect time to look into Slender Man – a fictional character which has somehow become a real life urban legend people are afraid of.
The origin of Slender Man
In 2009, Eric Knudsen (also known as Victor Surge) created a photoshop competition where he challenged people to edit everyday photos to appear paranormal. It was in his Something Awful Internet Forum. Using his alias Victor Surge, he posted two photos featuring a thin, very tall and slender man who had no face and wore a black suit who was added amongst a picture of children. He went as far to include quotes underneath the photos:
We didn’t want to go, we didn’t want to kill them, but it’s persistent silence and outstretched arms horrified and comforted us at the same time. – 1986 photographer unknown, presumed dead
One of two recovered photographs from the Stirling City Library blaze. Notable for being taken the day which fourteen children vanished and for what is referred to as “The Slender Man”. Deformities cited as film defects by officials. Fire at library occurred one week later. Actual photograph confiscated as evidence. – 1986, photographer Mary Thomas, missing since June 13th 1986
Creepypasta is a horror site where people put pictures, stories and meme which are intended to scare people. They are entirely fictional and created by users. People then began to write fictional stories about Slender Man which have him stalking people, scaring them and the target was usually children. They even linked him to unsolved murders. There was a lot of fan artwork created showing ‘slender man’ holding a child’s hand. He became extremely popular making his way into popular children’s games such as Minecraft and Roblox with young teens the prime target. I know my son plays these games and thinks that Slender Man is a real person to be afraid of. They talk about him in the school ground as if he is a real threat to society.
There is no an official source on Slender Man (as he doesn’t exist) so there are different stories around about his motives, what he does, his appearance all changes from story to story. We live in a digital age where perception is if it is not on the internet, it isn’t true and everything we read on the internet must be true! So convincing in fact, that the legend of Slender man led to an attempted murder.
A story leads to murder …
In 2014, two 12 year old girls Morgan and Anissa came up with a plan to kill their friend Payton (also a 12 year old girl). The girls were obsessed with ‘Slender Man’ and told police that they had to carry out the murders as it was necessary to please Slender Man. In the morning of May 31st 2014, the three girls woke up from a sleepover at Morgan’s house. They asked Morgan’s mother if they could goto the local park. Morgan and Anissa led Payton into the woods. They had a kitchen knife. Morgan handed Anissa the knife and said “I can’t do it, you know where all the soft spots are”. Anissa handed the knife back to her and said “You do it …. Go ballistic. Go crazy. Make sure she’s down”. Morgan then began to stab Payton 19 times. She wiped the knife on her jacket and put it back into her bag. The girls left Payton for dead, however she managed to crawl out of the woods and got help. Police soon visited Morgan’s house in riot gear looking for the girls. Morgan who is now 15 recently pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree intentional homicide. She has also been diagnosed with early onset schizophrenia meaning the court found her not guilty due to mental illness. She will live in a mental institution for an unknown number of years. Anissa was diagnosed with ‘shared psychotic disorder’. Anissa who is now 16 pleaded guilty to attempted second degree intentional homicide as a party to a crime. Again she was found not guilty due to mental illness and was committed to a mental health institution for 25 years. Payton survived the attack. The girls had a shared delusion due to an obsession with Slender Man.
The girls were obsessed with Slender Man through creepypasta. Their mental illness blurred the line between fiction and reality and sadly ended in tragedy. Even with the large amount of publicity this case received, a lot of people still believe Slender Man to be a real being. In this case, the girls had read stories and came to believe that if they did not kill their friend Slender Man would become angry and kill their families and that they needed to do it as a first step in becoming proxies. They said Slender Man watches them and can read their minds and has special powers like teleportation. Their parents didn't know anything about Slender Man or creepypasta.
There have been other reports of young teens attacking family members who claim the attacks were also motivated by Slender Man. There is now a soon to be released movie coming out which again for a lot of people will blur the lines between fiction and reality. Slender Man has become to this generation what the Candyman or Boogie Man was to my generation. When I was a young impressionable teenage however, social media didn’t exist in the way it does today. I was quite naïve on my icq chats and we certainly weren’t talking about the boogie man. It is up to us to monitor our kids and inform what is real and what isn’t. My 6 year old son is scared Slender Man is going to come into his room at night. We need to monitor what our kids are reading, what games they are playing, they are impressionable, and it is up to us to fill in those blanks when that line between fiction and reality gets blurred.
When you go out to see the Slender Man movie later this year, please remember one thing …… It is FICTION! I also encourage you to watch a documentary on Netflix and HBO called 'Beware the Slenderman'. it focuses on the attempted murder and to hear the detailed information the girls give in their interviews with police is disturbing and spine chilling.
Trailer for upcoming Slender Man movie
Images shown of Slender Man all belong to Eric Knudson/Victor Surge
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