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Slender Man was born on an Internet forum, on a website called SomethingAwful.com, during a forum discussion called, "Create Paranormal Images," on June 10, 2009. This started as an online contest, in which people were invited to send in strange photos; the stranger the better, in order to create an online viral photo with back story potential.
One of the forum members, "Victor Surge," who's actual name we now know as Eric Knudson, put up a couple of Photo Shopped images depicting a thin, tall figure without a face and long, sharp tentacles for arms, chasing a group of helpless children around on a playground. The caption of the first photo read: "we didn't want to go, we didn't want to kill them, but its persistent silence and outstretched arms horrified and comforted us at the same time..."
A second photograph of children being chased, (below), included this caption: "One of two recovered photographs from the Stirling City 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. “
As you may have guessed, the photos and the very thin, derivative back story were a huge hit on the forum and quickly went viral. Many more "found" photographs and so-called "documentation" of Slender Man stories came streaming onto the net as fast and furious as any cute and crazy kitty viral video. However, according to my research, Mr. Victor Surge, aka, Eric Knudson, has always, since the beginning, on June 10, 2009, taken full credit for inventing Slender Man, and the photos. "The Slender Man as an idea was made up on the fly when I wrote that first bit. (see above). The name I thought up on the fly when I wrote that first bit. The asset I used for a couple of the pictures was the creepy tall guy from Phantasm, which sadly I have not seen, and the others various guys in suits." Originally, the Tall Man was a mild-mannered 19th century mortician by the name of Jebediah Morningside. After years of performing funerals and burying the bodies of those who had died, he began to develop a fascination with any possible connection between our world and the world of the dead. Jebediah's research eventually led him to construct a machine that enabled him to travel through time and space. After going through the portall for the first time, traveling to a destination unknown, he promptly returned, irrevocably changed and henceforth known as the Tall Man.
The glorious Internet community, with lots of help from Youtube, took the idea and ran with it.
'Made up off the top of my head' — Victor Surge
If you're asking whether it's true that there exists a body of Slender Man legend dating as far back as 500 years, the answer is no. The so-called "Slender Man mythos" is a crowdsourced fiction, which means "obtaining information or input by enlisting the services of a number of people, either paid or unpaid, typically via the Internet." And it is very recent. Though it shares many features in common with older "boogeyman" legends, it's very different and unique because of its known origin, which has been so well documented that we can pinpoint the exact date and place of Slender Man's creation.
The rest of the so-called proof in the form of photos, videos and stories are from "crowdsourcing",
So, it seems that once Mr. Knudson put this up on the forum, and created this back story; well, it took on a life of it's own.
In my research for this piece, I viewed five different YouTube videos that claim to be "Real, true, actual video" of Slender Man or Slender Man incidents, where some people were actually supposed to have died. I lived in Baltimore, attending graduate school at Maryland Institute College of Art, back in 1997-2000, when "The Blair Witch" film was released to Baltimore audiences. Since it was filmed close by, on location in Maryland, the film was advertised as a factual "documentary", the video being "found" and the students; well, were never found.
At the time just about everyone believed “The Blair Witch” film was real. The videos of Slender Man, which I viewed on YouTube, were all bad copies of “The Blair Witch;” shaky camera, turning the camera on the face of the person filming, close-ups at weird angles, densely wooded settings or dark, tree-lined streets, and very bad acting by young and aspiring film makers. Good job guys. Really, good work.
All of this Internet drama and fakery has resulted in paranormal group websites actually taking the story seriously and publishing debates, discussions, and so-called evidence of the real existence of Slender Man. Many sites have asserted that Slender Man is a Celtic legend hundreds, if not thousands of years old. This is blatantly false. NOT TRUE. However, the back story grows as more and more people chime in with their own experiences, fears, fictions, and fantasies. Websites like 4Channel.com, CreepyPasta.com and hundreds of paranormal forums all over the web have been reporting Slender Man as more of an actual entity rather than a myth and the paranormal community has definitely started to look at the legend more openly and appropriately with the recent attacks. The Slender Man events have sent the urban legend surging into the paranormal mainstream; growing substantially into an actual entity who may oppress and possess the living.
Now, as most of you know, if you read the news, we have not one, not two, but three murders or attempted murders blamed on belief in Slender Man. In early June 2014, two girls, Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, both age 12, from Waukesha, Wisconsin, lured a classmate into a wooded area during a sleep over and stabbed her almost 20 times. According to the report, the girls were both heavily involved in the legend of Slender Man and were allegedly Proxies of the dark entity. According to the website, theslenderman.wikia.com, “A Proxy” is the term given by the DarkHarvest00 ARG to their Unknown Proxy. The theory behind the name is that Proxies are entities or people who are under the influence or control of Slender Man,(or the same force that influences Slender Man), and act based on its wants/needs- hence; Proxies serve as an in-between- a proxy- for Slender Man.”
The Wisconsin victim did survive and is reportedly making a full recovery. However, a second attack, also involving Slender Man, happened just a few weeks after the one in Hamilton, Ohio. A 13 year-old-girl, dressed as Slender Man, attacked her mother in their kitchen. The mother only received a few superficial wounds from the attack, but was ultimately very traumatized by the ordeal.
A 3rd case of Slender Man attacks happened again, just a short time after the Hamilton event. Jerad and Amanda Miller of Nevada, dressed as Harley Quinn and Slender Man, entered a food court in LasVegas where they shot two police officers while they were having lunch. The couple then fled and hid out in a local Wal-Mart for several hours before they finally committed suicide together.
The second thing that really disturbs me, (as if we need a second thing), is the way paranormal groups are advancing the so-called legend, taking it and running with it, believing it.
There is a theory among parapsychologists and paranormal investigators that a strong, group belief can possibly cause a manifestation of the belief, in the form of an apparition, an EVP, and other psychic phenomena. In other words, the creepy thing didn't exist until we started to believe in it, then we actually made it come into existence with our belief. Is this possible? There have been studies, and experiments, (The Phillips Experiment; a documentary about the early 1970s experiment in which a group of people attempted to re-create the effects of a seance by inventing an imaginary ghost. And it worked, resulting in psychokinetic and other unexplained phenomena.). Check it out for yourself. I will save it for another post.
I hope I have helped clear up the myth, in case you haven't read about the facts of the case. I hope I have alerted many of my readers to the responsibility of fantasy on the Internet and how young children can be easily influenced in harmful ways we may not imagine. I hope this inspires many of you to study, read, examine, question, and seek the truth.
News sources on the murders related to SlenderMan have been taken from the Carlisle Sentinel AP press release and yahoo news