Who Is Slenderman?

Credit: Wikimedia Commons Image

People have always told stories about monsters. Whether we're gathered around a fire and making smores, curled up in a half circle around the glow of a television, or kicking our feet up near a wood stove while a blizzard rages outside people want to tell stories about the things that live in the world's cracks. Ghost stories that happened on an old family homestead, hunting stories where people ended up dead and the great beast was never found, or just "true" stories about grisly suicides that happened in this... very... room! In the old days people would have to congregate face-to-face to share their spook stories. Thanks to the Internet though whole cloth creepshows can now spread like wildfire.

That's where Slenderman comes in. The Slenderman is described as a figure in a black suit with a white shirt and a black tie, its limbs strangely elongated and its face nothing more than an expanse of blank flesh. Some tale tellers claim this creature (whatever it is) is a shapeshifter, and that its fingers and body can grow into tendrils capable of snatching prey or propelling it through forests or water in the blink of an eye. The creature has an affinity for stealing children, though there is never evidence left behind once these kidnappings have happened. Anyone who investigates the kidnappings seems to vanish mysteriously as well. There are never bodies left behind either, which has led to a great deal of speculation about what the thing does with its victims.

Now if this all sounds horrible and terrifying, like an urban legend gone amok, that's because that's essentially what Slenderman is. Rather than some horrible monster, terrible alien, or a remnant of a pagan god, Slenderman began life on one of the forums at Something Awful.

The forum topic was "paranormal picture," and it was a Photoshop contest that took place in the summer of 2009. Victor Surge was the creator of the entry about the Slenderman, and it became so popular that he kept adding to the mythos, including the addition of various Photoshopped pictures. As the creator built the myth the Slenderman took on a life of its own, soon developing a fan following that included fan fiction, art and the requisite number of crackpots and trolls who claim to have seen or invoked the entity without actually checking the origins of the myth.

Ever since his popularity has reached the level of common knowledge the Slenderman has shown up in a variety of places. This includes Easter eggs in video games such as Mario Galaxy where you can see elongated, alien beings watching from a ledge in one of the levels. There are galleries of art, sound clips, reams of stories, tee shirts, and cosplayers stalking convention halls now; in short, Slenderman is now an institution.

Is That All?

Sad to say that's really all the juicy information there is about this particular creature. Much like how people still talk about Bloody Mary, the Hook Man, and about how your Halloween candy is poisoned by Satanists (seriously, that's a total myth), the elongated creature in a black suit is just a bad dream. There's no historical basis, no hidden truths, and despite the fact that he's been linked to an attempted murder by 12-year-olds in the year 2014, it just goes to show how right Lord of the Flies is when it comes to the mentality of children left to the mercy of their own mythologies.