Text: “Well we were all scared of Slenderman. Slenderman is a really really tall slender man, and when we were younger whenever kids were like especially malicious– so not if you were talking back to your dad or something, but like if you were severely bullying a friend. Then there would be an incident where you would be “slendermanned” and everyone knew that he was not real kind of, but like kids would make up other stories to tell kids he was real. Anytime that there’s like a sus murder in the news and no one could figure out what it was most people would just say it was him [slenderman]. It all started in 2014 I think when there was another kid who almost stabbed a 12 year old kid to death. Slenderman like he doesn’t kill you, but he gets someone else to do it for him pretty much. When slenderman is around you have this type of feeling, and you get really paranoid and you can’t get rid of him. We talked about that from a very young age as kids, like we were walking around talking about that. The whole idea was like the original kid that killed the girl was possessed like would do anything for slenderman. Anytime someone does something unexplainable like setting their house on fire or suicides all of that goes back to slenderman. There’s also the idea that he has a daughter and her name is skinny Sally, but I don’t know anything about that really.”
Context: M is a twenty one year old student who grew up in Chicago and went to school on the Southside. She currently attends USC, and says she doesn’t as frequently hear references to the story above anymore, but believes that’s more due to age than location.
Analysis: I had heard of Slenderman before talking to M, but never any of the background on him or why he was considered so terrifying. Before researching, both M and myself were unaware that the story of Slenderman originated on the internet. He’s usually represented as M and his name describes: a tall, skinny man, but also as a faceless shadowy figure. Slenderman first surfaced in 2009 when he was posted under a photoshop contest thread. Since his inception countless threads and communities online surfaced building upon the original narrative into several different horror stories. Transferred from site to site there is no canon, or singular correct version of Slenderman instead there’s multiplicity and variation. Slenderman’s evolution continues today, and was adapted into a 2018 film. The folkloric quality of Slenderman is well documented and has been researched by Andrew Peck who considers its popularity to be due to its “collaborative nature.” Still in spite of this “collaborative nature” Slenderman has been copyrighted by Eric Knudsen the 2009 poster of the images that inspired the narrative.