LH is a student who currently lives in Los Angeles. She is a comedian and has spent a lot of time on the internet throughout her life.

LH- So back in the day, when Creepypastas were popular and I was young on the internet, the stories used to all really scare me even though I knew it wasn’t real. When I first heard about Slenderman when I was in 5th grade, it really instilled a fear in my heart unlike no other. I remember after seeing it late at night I would always imagine him by my window, keeping me up every night. At one point someone made some badly photoshopped photos of Slenderman next to some kids at a park, and lurking in the woods, and I was stupid and you enough to believe it. It really frightened me deeply. I didn’t like ghosts or ghouls or scary stories as a kid, so the idea of a tall, omnipresent man lurking in the corner whenever it was dark really stuck with me. Then, a few years later, those 2 girls almost killed their friend in the name of Slenderman, and suddenly the fear became a lot more real, and less focused on the abstract suited figure, but also the people around me who could be under his control. If he doesn’t kill me then someone in his posse will. 

I first heard of Slenderman when I was in elementary school. I saw the original Creepypasta post and continued to see mentions and references to him on the internet for years. Slenderman was a tall disfigured German ghoul with long tentacles who would lurk around playgrounds and use its long spindly limbs to snatch up lonely kids. He appears at night, in dark lonely places, normally hiding out in the forest. Even though I heard of Slenderman by the chances of the internet, it does seem like the type of story parents would make up to scare their kids away from going to places alone or at night. Um, but the fear tactics of the Slenderman story were entirely imposed by myself. Seeing the Creepypasta scared me into not wanting to go out without my parents, and developing a slight fear of the dark. He followed me, in my subconscious, wherever I went. I was 10, I wasn’t bright, I believed everything I saw on the internet. It was definitely heightened by the internet because everyone was posting about it. 

On a psychological note, your brain has the same reaction to the feelings of excitement and fear, so a part of me thinks kids enjoy scary things because it gives them that little kick of adrenaline. Also, being a kid and having unlimited access to the internet makes you want to seek out scary and adult things, but being so young and naive makes it easy to be tricked. And people on the internet prey on the stupidity of others. Honestly, I also had a very unique childhood in the sense that my parents heavily monitored the TV and movies I watched, I wasn’t able to watch R rated movies for a very very long time, but I had unlimited access to the internet. They didn’t know what the internet was capable of, so they just let me run free with it, and I took what little freedom I had and wanted to make the most of it. 


I think Slenderman became such a popular ghostly figure on the internet because of its simplicity. As a kid, you’re taught all about stranger danger, and the scariest thing in the world is some untraceable stranger coming up and taking you away. Slenderman is a visual representation of that childhood fear of strangers and the dark and scary unknown. It frightened and captivated so many children because it was a representation of a concept everyone was familiar with. 

The design of Slenderman is an important factor in the figure’s popularity. Making Slenderman this very simple man with no face and long limbs in a classic black and white tuxedo made it very easy for others to create content for this creature. Even 10 years ago, photoshopping a Slenderman hidden in the woods on a random photo was not only easy but could look quite realistic. The simple design allowed for it to spread quickly, as more and more people created images and stories about him, convincing young kids everywhere. 

Creepypastas are a very interesting aspect of early Internet culture. Ghost stories have always been prevalent in youth culture, often being a rite of passage for the older, wiser kids to pass the stories down to more gullible children. As the internet grew in popularity, especially among young generations, many playground traditions evolved to fit the internet age. Creepypastas were the new ghost stories, scaring children into thinking it was real and allowing the people in the know to perpetuate and entertain. Kids also often were drawn towards Slenderman and other Creepypastas as a way to be ‘adult’. In the 2000s and early 2010s, most adults didn’t fully understand the capabilities of the internet, and would often not be aware of the type of content that their kid was consuming. Kids want to prove themselves to be grown up, and one way to do that is by rebelling against their parents by exploring things that seem ‘scary’ or ‘adult’. These scary stories perfectly captured the children’s imaginations while also making the kids feel braver and more grown up. Creepypastas were a fascinating phenomenon that showcases the ways our traditions evolve with us.