By Jacob Blank
You have probably heard of the saying “people will believe anything they see on the Internet”, and it’s partially true. The Internet is a place of infinite ideas, exploration, and excitement, but it can also be a foundation for danger.
Just last May, in Waukesha, Wisconsin, there was the stabbing of a 12-year old girl by two of her classmates. The girls who committed the violent crime claimed that they attempted to kill their classmate as a way of pleasing the online, fictional character known as Slender Man. The two suspects of the stabbing also explained to police that they wanted to kill their classmate in order to join Slender Man and protect their families. In the event that the girls are convicted of attempted first-degree premeditated murder, they could be sentenced up to 65 years in a state prison. The victim of the stabbing thankfully survived and returned to school.
If you don’t already know who Slender Man is, then you probably aren’t an adolescent male, web junkie, or gamer. Comparable to the Bogeyman, Slender Man was created by “Something Awful” forums user,” Victor Surge” in 2009. The supernatural character can best be described as being a thin, tall, man with a featureless pale face, wearing a black suit. The character can also be pictured as having black outstretched tentacles sprouting out of his back. The stories of Slender Man tell of a mysterious creature stalking and abducting innocent children. These stories on the menacing creature are all mainly created online.
The Slender Man “movement” has gained popularity around the world as a result of online discussion and the video game, Slender: Eight Pages. It is a first person single player game and the object is to find all eight hidden pieces of paper without succumbing Slender Man’s wrath. The sequel to the game, Slender: The Arrival, is said to be just as creepy and is also based on the menacing character.
Sure, Slender Man started out as something out of a fictional horror story, but it has influenced some into thinking it is part of reality. It’s truly sad to know that kids, especially as young as those involved in the Waukesha, Wisconsin stabbing, have access to web conversation that is meant for older audiences. The part that scares me the most is that something like this could happen again. This goes to show how truly powerful and influential the Internet can be.