Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Slenderman: A Ghost Story for the Information Age

Evening internet. It's Halloween tonight and fell winds are howling around my house as sallow faced goblin like children roam the streets in search of sugary treats. On this ghostly eve I would like to tell you a tale most chilling. A tale of an otherworldly being who stalks the woods and forests of the world; an enigmatic being who patiently watches and waits for its chance to steal you away to somewhere else, never to be seen again. A faceless terror who could be watching you right now. I am talking of course about the Slenderman
Run if you like but it won't help
The Slenderman legend dates back to the 1600s when families who lived around the black forest in Germany would tell tales of "Der Großmann" a tall fey creature who would steal bad children away into the forest. Below are two reproductions of wood cuts from that period depicting what is believed to be Der Großmann (also known as "Der Ritter")
Note the inclusion of an hourglass in both pieces, possibly symbolising Fate or Death
In more recent years there have been many sightings of Slenderman although its appearance has changed somewhat. From a distance Slenderman appears to be a tall thin man in a business suit. On closer inspection however eye witnesses have reported that Slenderman has no face and limbs that are much longer than a humans. It also may just look like it's wearing a suit due to markings on its body. In many cases Slenderman is also seen with many branch like tendrils sprouting from its back which can easily support its (and your) weight, appears to have the ability to teleport short distances and occasionally psycically dominates people do do it's bidding as "Proxies".
Even in 2009 you are not safe
Slenderman has become the subject of a number of Youtube channels and even a popular Indy Game
but there is one fact about him more shocking than any of what I have said so far. Slenderman is an utter fabrication. In fact I have socks older than Slenderman. It was created back in 2009 in this thread on the Something Awful forums. All of the images I have used so far are from that same thread. I had the privilege of watching events as they unfolded back then; as one picture, one creepy idea spawned an entire mythos which (via the work of some very creative individuals) retroactively wrote itself into history.

Slenderman has always fascinated me because it's a concept so creepy and engaging that it would appear people want to believe in it. Mix this up with the internet and you get a whole bunch of people suspending disbelief in a similar way that one does when viewing a card trick; deep down you know it's fake but part of you wants it to be real. In the cold light of day you know its all made up but put someone in the woods at 1AM and they believe in Slenderman. Hell I think I've seen him near my old family home at 6PM.
Ol' Slendy taps into something primal in all of us: he's just human looking enough to be easy to miss, just twisted enough to be frightening and just original enough for you to remember him. He's the subject of the greatest ghost story ever told. Also he's right behind you. Made you look.

Happy Halloween Internet

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