Despite being of humble internet forum origins, Slender Man has become one of the most talked-about online phenomenas of the last few years. Slender Man’s notoriety was largely won through unpalatable means — several crazed young people have attacked friends and family members and later blamed the online horror figure for their actions. Payton Leutner, 12, was stabbed several times by two girls, Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser, who later said they carried out the attack in order to please Slender Man, reported ABC News.
Other than encouraging violent followers, Slender Man has also intrigued social scientists, such as Tom Pettit of the University of Southern Denmark. Tom told the BBC that he believed the popular internet legend represented a return to primitive methods of storytelling. The instance of a hazy legend based on a character, like Slender Man, being retold in various forms with only a few official constants is much like the way narrative existed before the invention of the printing press.
Pettit, however, asserts that Slender Man is a fictional character, which isn’t true for many of the young people who spread and read his stories online. The Slender Man legend has even spread into the world of tabloid ghost spotting. A British medium named Christine Hamlett recently showed photos to the Mirror that she claims show Slender Man lurking in the woods in Cannock Chase, Staffordshire — where the paper also says four other sightings have taken place recently.
“It kind of looks like the top half of Slender Man like his shoulders and head, with the bottom half covered by bushes. I couldn’t believe it. It could well be him. It would make sense after all these other sightings. It’s really exciting that this could actually be a picture of him caught on camera and the only one so far.”
Despite a lack of evidence, there are still some Slender Man readers who believe he exists. These synthesis of the fact and fiction surrounding the legend, as well as its murky origins, is even further exacerbated by the slew of “documented” evidence that exists on YouTube and other places where Slender Man material is posted.
Of course, there is little uncertainty about Slender Man’s fake origins, according to the Boston Globe. Still, the story — constantly evolving as more people retell it — always carries a certain element of surprise to it; perhaps that’s why some Slender Man believers are still wondering, “What will he do next?”
[Image via YouTube]