As two 12-year-old girls are being tried as adults for stabbing their 12-year-old friend repeatedly in an apparent attempt to impress a fictitious Internet-based monster-type character known as “Slenderman,” experts say it should be a wake up call to all parents about the dangers of confusing fantasy and reality.
Who is Slenderman, also known as “Slender Man”? He was created in 2009. He is faceless, wears a suit and sometimes is shown with tentacles. He is believed to haunt children who try to expose him.
There are tons of videos on YouTube and elsewhere that portray Slenderman as very real.
And if you are a child, you might actually believe that he is.
This one video titled “Slenderman in real life” is shot like the Blair Witch Project. The kids are actors. But it’s shot in a style so it seems very real.
It focuses on kids who come across Slenderman in their neighborhood. The video description says the following:
“Classified Information: Video taken from camera found at the scene of crime.
Encryption Key: ADfsajie15671@#$%sjdnfalehbaeb4h7564
If files are released to the public, destroy everything.”
It has more than 2-million views. Watch it so you can see what our kids may be seeing:
“According to the legend, he can stretch or shorten his arms at will and has tentacle-like appendages protruding from his back. Depending on the interpretations of the myth, the creature may cause memory loss, insomnia, paranoia, coughing fits (nicknamed “slendersickness”), photograph/video distortions and can teleport at will,” says Know Your Meme, a blog that chronicles Web culture.
That site says he was born as part of a contest to create images.
A problem with Slenderman, also known as “Slender Man,” is that there are various versions of him all of which are controlled by different people.
“Marble Hornets” is one of the most popular. The video series on YouTube and has a very scary 380,000 subscribers.
Slenderman has also been a popular subject of horror fiction written for the Web and presented in a style that seems real.
The girls accused in the Milwaukee stabbing told police they knew the character Slender Man from the Creepypasta Wiki, a site that compiles that type of fiction.
Creepypasta issued a statement on the stabbing.
“This is an isolated incident, and does (not) represent … the Creepypasta community,” the statement reads. “This wiki does not endorse or advocate for killing, worship, and otherwise replication of rituals of fictional works. There is a line of between fiction and reality, and it is up to you to realize where the line is. We are a literature site, not a satanic cult.”
Police say the Wisconsin girls who stabbed their 12-year-old friend told a detective they were trying to become “proxies” of Slenderman so that Slenderman would take them to his “mansion in the woods.”
“I think it’s the chemistry between these two girls. It was insane. Not in their minds but in their relationship,” said criminologist Jack Levin, a professor of sociology and criminology at Northeastern University Levin on CNN’s @This Hour. “It may turn out that one of the girls was more troubled and that caused the relationship to take a tragic turn,” he added.
“I call some teenagers and preteens temporary sociopaths,” he said on the show. “They commit a hideous crime at the age of 12 or 13 that they wouldn’t dare commit if you can get them to the age of 25, when their brain has developed more and they no longer have this kind of character disorder. And when you put them together with another youngster, you may ask for big trouble.”
Though these videos blur the lines, what can dads and moms do about Slenderman or Slender Man to teach their kids about fiction and reality?
“Spend time with your kids. Love your kids. Teach them about what’s real and not real. Help them to pay attention to consequences and think through consequences,” psychologist Lianne Lennert told KATU-TV in Portland.