Slender Man is the first case of a myth of terror created on the internet, a kind of Bogeyman with tentacles.
Today many urban legends are shared on creepypasta. Creepypasta is best described as a concept or genre of collaborative horror shared on social networks or the internet.
Although not being the first paranormal story, the legend of Slender Man made this horror fiction site extremely popular. This character had its peak in 2014 and continues to attract the attention of children and young people.
Slender Man: The Man Without A Face
Slender Man is an anthropomorphic "thing" between two and four meters long. He is elegant, wears a black suit, with a black tie and a white shirt. His limbs are incredibly long, and his face is a pale mask without features, eyes, ears, and mouth. On his back, he hides six tentacles with which he attacks his victims.
Slender Man is invisible at will and, therefore, has rarely been photographed or recorded on video. He moves in the shadows and stalks children and adolescents. There are divided opinions on whether he is a protector or a threat.
Believe it or not, many teenagers believe in the existence of this character who, in reality, was created in 2009. His creator is Victor Knudsen, nicknamed Victor Surge. Victor posted Slender Man to the Something Awful forum to participate in a thread of Photoshopped images.
The attention grew until the character became a world-famous meme. It spread to material for creepypasta, a type of collaborative genre horror story.
Once Slender Man became a literary and fanfic character, the myth and the belief in the actual existence of the character started to spread quickly. The network was flooded with videos, photos, and testimonials from Internet users that fed the idea that Slender Man is among us.
At this point in the 21st century, it can be said that Slender Man is the first character created on the internet that has been installed in popular folklore. It opened the door to other digital myths.
If we had any doubt about how popular horror characters and legends had been created, we only have to take a look at the phenomenon of Slender Man.
Millions of minds supported the belief by adding a childhood, adolescence, new features, even residence for the Slender Man. Soon, he became a brand of its own. Don't Batman and Superman have a logo? Slender Man's is an X crossing out a circle.
Slender Man's Victims
Slender Man's victims are children and young people who are always on their tablets, cell phones, or computers. He also lurks fans of urban horror legends created on the internet. They are addicted to websites like creepypasta, in which thousands of horror stories are uploaded.
The lore of Slender Man captivated thousands of teenagers in 2014, like Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser. Their story, however, is not a legend.
True Story In Wisconsin, United States
The already twisted myth took a dark turn on May 31, 2014.
Morgen Geyser and Annisa Weier, two 12-year-old girls from Waukesha, Wisconsin, met and became close. They created a special friendship, as they had a lot in common. Annisa was not very popular and had no friends. Morgen was also a loner and did not have many friends except for Payton Leutner, who lately was leaving her aside.
Annisa and Morgen had overflowing imaginations, and both shared common literary hobbies. They were fans of creepypasta and horror literature. A friendship broke out between them that fueled their fantasies.
The friends decided to kill Payton, taking advantage of Morgen's birthday noise since the three were sleeping in the same house to have a pajama party. They went to a park that had a nearby wooded area. With the excuse that they would play hide-and-seek, they took Payton to the deepest area. There they stabbed her 19 times with a kitchen knife.
The killers left the victim in a dying state and escaped from the crime scene. Payton dragged herself to a nearby road, where a cyclist picked her up. Luckily, she was taken to a hospital where her life was saved.
While all this was going on, Morgen and Annisa were stopped by a police officer who found the presence of two young girls walking alone on the road of Interstate 94 suspicious. Annisa told the police officer that Payton Leutner had just been murdered. She said they were heading to the Nicolet Nature Reserve, where the Slender Man Mansion was located, to meet up with him.
The background and precedents of this strange criminal case are narrated in great detail and with great skill by Irene Taylor Brodsky. Her documentary Beware the Slender Man premiered on HBO in 2016.
Slender Man's Influence
Morgen and Annisa tried to kill Payton Leutner to honor Slender Man. The girls wanted to become his servants and mythical agents. According to his followers, the servants are in charge of doing his dirty work. Both confessed the facts to the police without holding anything back, telling everything with childlike innocence.
The girls hoped to be exempted from responsibility as if the matter were just mischief that had gotten out of hand. Hoping, or so it seems, that the police believe in the existence of Slender Man and would get going to arrest the real culprit.
Far from being a morality tale, Beware of the Slender Man tells the facts with a captivating coldness. It uses the testimonies of the girls' relatives and perfectly conveys all the contradictory feelings that love produces in them.
The documentary becomes a game of Russian Dolls in which we discover more and more details of the case. It portrays the strength of the myths and tries to understand all the personality traits of both girls. Incidentally, it warns us that the generation gap and new technologies do not get along. It also shows that the internet has broken the barrier between reality and fiction.
Morgan and Annisa decided to believe in Slender Man, just as others believe that there are Nazis bases in Antarctica, or that Queen Elizabeth II is a reptilian alien. People believe out of innocence, immaturity, illiteracy, or feel secure in their ideas. Sometimes, unfortunately, they kill for their belief.
For reasons as absurd as this, two twelve-year-olds stabbed another girl and honored an imaginary being that awaited them in the forest's depths.
Finally, Morgan and Anissa were found guilty and punished as adults, giving them 65 years in prison.
The Strong Belief In Creepypasta
The case, known as The Slender Man Stabbing, became fodder for the tabloid media. It sparked a ridiculous debate about limits, content control, and the use of the internet. It also generated an intense wave of panic in the United States where there were cases, false or not, of violent assaults related to the cult of the Slender Man character.
For example, 14-year-old Lily Marie Hartwel from Pasco County, Florida, set fire to her family home. This happened on the night of September 4, 2014, while her mother and her 9-year-old brother were sleeping. Although it was known that the event could be related to a domestic dispute or an accident, the girl made some horrendous errors in her statements, twisting the background of the story. She said she did not know what had happened and acknowledged that she was a regular at creepypasta and souleater.
This was enough for the tabloid media to spend a few days talking about it and linking it directly to Slender Man.
Today, Slender Man is a horror character that has inspired even film directors. Irene Taylor Brodsky made a documentary of Anissa and Morgan's story called Beware the Slender Man, which you can see on HBO. Slender Man has also been brought to the big screen, and a movie was released in 2018.
Still, the sad reality is that young people and children do not know how to mediate between fantasy and reality. Many continue to believe that the content from creepypasta is real. Who will be the next horror legend on the internet?