Over time, scholars have had a field day arguing over how certain folklore characters come into existence. This has been the battle with The Slender Man because even though his roots are traceable to a particular time, person and date, folklorists still insist he fits the perfect description that qualifies him to be named as a part of the present-day digital folklore.
The streets of the internet had a good time adapting the Slender Man persona to whatever anyone wanted him to be with his descriptive qualities changing over time to incorporate more active imaginations. Here is everything you need to demystify the persona.
Who Is Slender Man?
The Slender Man is a scary fictional figure with superhuman abilities that was created by the handle of the platform of Something Awful. The website held a forum game that challenged its dedicated users to edit normal photographs of everyday life and make it appear creepy or abnormal. In response to this, a user on the website submitted a black and white photo he had edited of children playing on the street but added a slender looking man in an oversized suit lurking in the trees just behind the oblivious children.
Knudsen’s illustration of the slender man is a persona that is abnormally thin, tall and whose facial features cannot be determined. According to him, the character was birthed from his read of the novels ‘The Mist’ by Stephen King and ‘That Insidious Beast’ by Zach Parsons, among many other books, reports, and essays about shadow people and Mothman. When he submitted the edited photo on June 10, 2009, on Something Awful website, other users took to it and sooner than expected, it went viral and had other people embellishing it and giving it other attributes that over time, has only made it even more creepy than Knudsen intended. It was automatically transformed into a work of art that had a life of its own as it spawned many different versions with their own stories and interpretations.
At the peak of its popularity, The Slender Man had a community of memes, online fiction, and cosplay popularly known as CreepyPastas. Soon enough, it went well beyond its original intention and had additional characteristics including sprouting tentacles from his back, the ability to wipe one’s memory, the ability to teleport and so much more, depending on the fancy of the particular storyteller running with it.
Is The Slender Man Real Or A Myth?
Over the years, as the Slender Man has garnered popularity, there have been questions regarding its history and whether it is real or a myth. From the origins we have talked about above, the Slender Man is a myth. Being that it was created by a person who never witnessed any such thing but was inspired by the things he read, it is purely fictional. However, because of the rate at which it went viral after Knudsen made the post on Something Awful, Slender man is now seen as not having a single creator and as such, there have been arguments that support the idea that it represents a form of digital folklore.
Scholars are of divided opinions with some saying the Slender Man is folklore, even though it can be traced back to its very beginnings. The scholars supporting this idea argue that traditional monsters such as werewolves and vampires might have equally come into existence the same way but are accepted as folklore because the history of their origins over time could not be traced back to an online post.
Who Were His Victims?
When Slender Man began as an online creepypasta, there was no talk of real live victims because all the stories associated with it were purely works of fiction. From origins, the fictional tales involved him stalking and abducting children. He is often depicted lurking in the trees wherever children are playing.
However, all of this changed with the Waukesha stabbing incident that happened on the 31st day of May 2014. On the said day, 2 young girls Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier both 12-year-old at the time, lured a fellow classmate into the woods behind one of their houses in Waukesha Wisconsin and stabbed her 19 times on various parts of her body. After the incident, the victim who they left for dead was able to crawl out to the road where a passerby alerted the authorities.
When investigations into the incident began, the girls who were on the run were apprehended and brought in for questioning where they claimed the murder attempt which they made to look like a sacrifice was their first step at becoming agents for the Slender Man who they had read about on a horror story website. The girls also claimed that they were sure the Slender Man could read their minds and would kill their families if they did not commit the murder. Following their admissions which cited discussions one of the girls had with Lord Voldermort (a fictional character in the Harry Potter series) and one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, she was taken for a psych evaluation and found unfit to stand for trial. Months later, in November, when she was declared fit, it was announced that the girls would be tried separately as adults.
Hence, on the 21st day of August 2017, Anissa Weier pleaded guilty to the charges of attempted second-degree homicide but claimed insanity for her actions and was sentenced to a three-year mental hospital stay and a 25-year hospitalization. Morgan Geyser, on the other hand, who was mentally sound at the time of the incident, pleaded guilty to first-degree homicide in a bid to avoid a prison sentence. She was eventually given the maximum sentence allowed which is a 40-year stay at the Wisconsin mental hospital.