Slender Man—An Urban Legend Come to Life?

When I was working on my latest book, in which I chronicle many mysterious creatures and unusual phenomena in the state of West Virginia, during the course of my research, I was led to what I believed was nothing more than a creepy “internet thing”—Slender Man. Chances are, you may have heard of Slender Man; he is a recent creation and he has made the news several times over the last few years. Soon, he will have his own HBO documentary.

Slender Man began as an internet meme in the forums of the Something Awful webpage (https://forums.somethingawful.com/). Slender Man is the brainchild of Eric Knudsen who created him in a photo shop contest in 2009.

Slender Man quickly went viral. I remember shortly after hearing about Slender Man, from my kids, my son dressed as him for Halloween. He wore my black suit, a white shirt, a tie, and a white “morph suit” underneath. The morph suit gave my son a featureless white face which looked quite creepy in the dark. His costume was pretty convincing—the “real” Slender Man wears a suit and has a pale face void of features. His most notable trait, though, are his arms. They are disproportionately long, almost like tentacles which hand down low beside his skinny body.

Slender Man’s backstory is an eerie one. The lone figure haunts the shadows and hangs out in forests waiting to abduct children. He has incredible mental abilities—he is able to teleport himself and also to “get into” the minds of certain people to use them as proxies to commit evil deeds. Coming within close proximity to Slender Man can invoke extreme fear and paranoia. To see him means death.

He isn’t Real, Though, Right?

Though Slender Man was clearly created recently, there are some who believe he is real. The nation was shocked in 2014 when two young girls stabbed a classmate 19 times to please Slender Man. He has also been blamed for other attacks and suicides.

It would be easy to write off the Slender Man driven attacks as the work of mentally disturbed individuals and leave it at that. Their evil deeds are a product of their madness and have nothing to do with a new urban legend. It may not be that simple.

People have actually began seeing Slender Man. West Virginia is among the places that he has supposedly been spotted, particularly around Parkersburg and New Richmond. I was reading posts in an internet forum and read of a person who had recently moved to Kanawha County. She was shocked at how many locals believed in Slender Man.

How did we get from a creepy internet meme in 2009, to stabbings in 2014, to sightings today?

It has been suggested that Slender Man is a manifestation of our collective fears. As a society, we called Slender Man into existence with our fear and our dark thoughts.

We made Slender Man.

In the same way that group prayer is said to be extra effective in healing and bringing about peace, the negative thoughts and dark energy of a large group can have the same effect in bringing forth evil, darkness, and unwanted manifestations. With this in mind, with the state of things in our country—terrorism, division, social ills, the ever-increasing divide between the “have” and “have nots”—one has to wonder what will be manifested in the days to come.