I’ll be honest: when reports of the Waukesha, Wisconsin Slender Man attack started making the rounds several weeks ago, I decided not to post any information about in on my site. As far as I was concerned, it was a weird, bizarre and sad instance of two girls who clearly had issues. How else can you explain two 12-year-old girls deciding to try and stab their friend to death and then claiming their actions were an attempt to win the favor of a fictitious character known as Slender Man? I mean, nobody actually believes Slender Man is real, right?
Well, apparently others do. Or at least that’s what a Hamilton County, Ohio mother is claiming. Specifically, the woman, who has yet to be identified, told an NBC affiliate that she came home from work one night to find her 13-year-old daughter waiting for her in the kitchen. According to the report, the girl was wearing a white mask and attacked her mother with a knife, causing multiple minor injuries.
Here’s where things get a little sketchy, though. The mother stated that “after hearing about the Wisconsin attack”, she started to think her daughter might be “under the same influence”. The mother based that assumption on the fact that she had found some of her daughter’s writings which “made reference to Slender Man” and that the daughter had “even created a world for Slender Man in the game Minecraft.”
See, that’s why I added the “alleged” to this post’s title. Unlike the Wisconsin case, where the 2 accused girls apparently made comments to authorities that their crime was related to Slender Man, the alleged attacker in the Ohio case made no such statement. In fact, the only one who brought up Slender Man was the attacker’s mother. Granted, there may indeed be a connection. I’m just saying one hasn’t been established yet, so it’s a bit unfair to start linking them.
More than that, though, I just can’t get my head around why these girls are thinking Slender Man is real. For the uninitiated, Slender Man is the creation of Eric Knudsen, an administrator for the website Creepypasta. Long story short, creepypasta is a site filled with horror fiction, which is written and designed specifically to be spread across the Internet (chat rooms, forums, etc). Anyone can contribute and the stories can be about anything, just as long as they are creepy, frightening and perhaps even disturbing. Some of the more popular topics (i.e.: monsters, ghosts, etc) are given their own pages. Slender Man has his own page, with some contributors even posting drawings and “real” photographs of Slender Man in an attempt to give their posts an air of authenticity.
As I mentioned, Slender Man was created by Eric Kundsen. Yes, created. Kundsen is credited with writing the first story about Slender Man before it went out into the virtual world and people began adding their own stories about the shadowy figure. But here’s the thing: Slender Man’s stories are works of fiction and are presented as such. Spend more than 5 minutes “researching” Slender Man (i.e., reading about him online) and you’ll quickly discover that people readily admit to him being a fictional character. In fact, it’s mentioned in the very first sentence on Wikipedia:The Slender Man (also known as Slender Man or Slenderman) is a fictional character that originated as an Internet meme created by Something Awful forums user Eric Knudsen (a.k.a. “Victor Surge”) in 2009.
So for the life of me, I can’t figure out why these girls allegedly thought that Slender Man was real.
Of course, there are already arguments and conversations taking place online and in the news debating whether or not online horror fiction such as Slender Man is too violent and if guidelines and laws need to be put in place to protect impressionable children from getting their hands and eyes on it. Believe it or not, even though I am a writer that deals with just this sort of spooky stuff, I can see where people are coming from. I’m all for making sure that the materials children are reading are age-appropriate.
But here’s the thing: these Slender Man “incidents” go well beyond a simple discussion of what’s appropriate reading for adolescents. It’s actually a case of right and wrong and even what’s real and what’s imaginary. To put things in perspective, these girls believing that Slender Man was real and that they needed to carry out acts of violence to appease him would be the equivalent of me, as a 12-year-old (eons ago), believing that Bloody Mary, Michael Myers, and even Slimer were all real AND they wanted me to do their bidding and harm people. It doesn’t make sense to me.
Of course, a lot of things don’t make sense to me these days. But the way I see it, I don’t care how impressionable you may be: if someone, especially the Boogeyman, tells you to hurt another human being, common sense should tell you that’s a bad idea. Because, you know, he’s the Boogeyman and all.
You can read the full report from WLWT News, which includes a video interview with the Ohio victim/mother here
More information on the Wisconsin case can be found here
The Slender Man section of Creepypasta, which includes many fan contributions, can be accessed here