You are at the park, and in the distance, you catch a glimpse of this tall man in a dark suit. He is out of place, and you can tell something about him is just not right. He is unusually tall and oddly thin. His arms and legs are long and seem disproportionate to his body. He then turns and looks at you, and that is when you notice that his face is featureless.
You want to scream, and you can feel the panic rising in your chest. Your breath begins to quicken, and your body feels flushed with adrenalin. You have a sudden urge to run but don’t want to make a scene. You start moving towards your car, trying not to burst into a sprint. You turn to see where he is, but you’ve lost him. With panic taking over, you give up and break into a run.
You make it to your car and take another look around. You cannot see him as you unlock your doors, but the hairs on the back of your neck stand up because you can feel him following you, stalking you, and waiting until you least expect it. That is when he will snatch you, and you will never be seen again.
Slender Man History
Slender Man is one of the most popular fictional characters across the internet. The Slender Man stories have inspired blogs, web series, fan art, and even a movie. What started as an internet contest has morphed into a cult-like following. While the origins of Slender Man are just one internet search away, he has morphed into a modern urban legend. Like any urban legend, the more the story is told, the more real it seems. These retellings and sharing of a story are what help validate a story, leading to people believing Slender Man is real.
While the story seems old, the legend’s origins are just one Google search away. Slender Man originated on the Something Awful humor site and was created by user Victor Surge, whose real name is Eric Knudsen. The original story was posted as part of a scary photo contest. The contest challenged the participants to manipulate an ordinary photo into something scary. Victor posed for two black-and-white photos with children in a park and a tall silhouette looming in the background. He appears to be watching the children in the photo intently.
What is so scary about a tall, thin man in a suite? He is just thin; he is unusually thin and tall. Most sources describe him as being over seven feet tall. His limbs are long and disproportionate to his body, which gives him an eerie humanoid appearance. Sometimes his arms and legs are replaced with tentacles, which give him Cthulhu vibes. The most unnerving feature is his featureless face, often depicted as a flat, white blank face.
While the original version of the legend was limited to photo captions, this story has been added to and new versions created over the years. People have added stories such as personal encounters and other anecdotes about him abducting and killing people.
If you search for Slender Man on the internet, you will find him looming in the background of photos of groups or children. He stalks his victims from the shadows for days—and sometimes even months—before kidnapping them. Most people don’t even know they are being watched until it is too late. His victims just disappear without a trace. The assumption is that they are killed.
The Urban Legend
Like most urban legends, the Slender Man legend uses real-life situations to instill fear. The first photos posted showed Slender Man lurking in the background of a playground, along with the claims that the children had gone missing that day and were never seen again. The inference being that all the children were killed by Slender Man. Missing children and child murder are not just horrifying but death is a taboo topic. Many people fear death, but as a society, child death is especially morbid.
As humans, something relatable like kidnapping can be more frightening than something abstract like ghosts or other characters like Freddy Kruger. Slender Man appears like he could be a real man, stealing children and making people question their own mortality.
Fiction Bleeds into Reality
Slender Man started with two photos on an internet message board but has morphed into an integral part of culture. The popularity of the Slender Man legend exploded in the mid-2000s, with people adding to the story or creating slightly different versions. The website Creepypasta, where many horror stories are shared, has many reports of sightings and new stories related to the original telling.
Slender Man is also represented as a part of pop culture history in a web series called Marble Hornets. It was created in 2009 and ended in 2014, but it still has a following even today. What no one expected was that the legend would be the motive for an attempted murder by two 12-year-old girls.
Two twelve-year-old girls in Waukesha, WI, were so obsessed with Slender Man that they developed a plan to murder a friend. They were convinced that if they murdered their friend, Slender Man would take them to his house, and they would live with him.
The pair of girls lured another 12-year-old classmate, a girl they considered a friend, into the woods by a public park. There, they stabbed their friend 19 times. Amazingly, the victim lived. The two juvenile attackers have been committed to a psychiatric facility.
Even though I know that Slender Man isn’t real, if I see a tall, creepy guy in a suit lurking near my children at the park, we are going to make a run for it. Stay safe and know your legends.
The Slender Man Wiki