Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Another "Slender Man" Attack?

Many people in the United State don't realize that violent attacks such as school shootings and so forth actually peaked around 1991, with the overall rate dropping ever since. The difference is that back then the major news networks had an agreement not to cover such events, for fear of inspiring copycats. Unfortunately, with the advent of competition from cable news and the Internet, the desire for sensational stories now seems to have overwhelmed any such consideration. As a result it seems like violence is on the rise even though it has in fact declined substantially over the course of the last twenty years.

Recently the story of two Wisconsin teens who attempted to murder a friend in hopes of appeasing Slender Man, an Internet meme that originated in online horror stories, was widely reported, including here on Augoeides. Only a few days after that, another attack was reported by an Ohio mother, who was attacked by her 13-year-old daughter. Like the Wisconsin teens, the daughter was also apparently obsessed with Slender Man.

“I came home one night from work and she was in the kitchen waiting for me and she was wearing a mask — a white mask,” the woman said. “She had her hood up and had her hands covered with her sleeves and the mask. She was someone else during that attack,” the mother added.

The woman returned home one evening when her daughter attacked her in the kitchen, stabbing her multiple times. She sustained minor injuries in the attack, including cuts on her neck and face and a puncture wound on her back. She explained that her daughter has mental issues and that her writings were dark, frequently mentioning demons, being insane, and “falling into darkness.”

Following the attack, she discovered evidence of her daughter’s obsession with Slenderman. “We found things that she had written and she made reference to Slenderman. She also made references to killing,” the mother said. “She even created a world for Slenderman in the game Minecraft.”

Suggesting that the media impose some a blackout over stories like this is impractical at best and censorship at worst, and is not something I could ever support. But it is also important to keep in mind not only that copycat attacks will sometimes happen when stories get a lot of media attention, and also that it's difficult to estimate the real rate of attacks from what winds up actually being reported.

Given the popularity of Slender Man, two attacks is actually not that many statistically speaking. These girls likely have serious psychological problems that the Slender Man meme appeals to, and potential psychopathy has been measured in between 0.6% and 1.2% of the general population. Since millions of Internet users are Slender Man fans, there should be tens of thousands of potential psychopaths in their midst.

"Potential" is the key here. Most psychopaths in fact don't act out because simply lacking empathy doesn't make them stupid. They know that there are penalties for criminal actions and have no desire to incur them. However, sometimes this proves difficult for those of low intelligence and/or low impulse control, and this latter group is disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system. Many of them also began acting out in early adolescence.

As to whether the Slender Man meme has gathered some sort of spiritual force, my initial response is no. Fictional characters don't magically morph in macrocosmic spiritual entities simply because they amass a fandom, and I would go so far as to say anyone who believes that doesn't understand how magick works. The creation of a Slender Man entity would require an actual magical operation performed by someone who knew what they were doing - though I suppose it's not impossible that someone may have done so, and if they have all bets are off.

A commenter on my previous Slender Man story raised the possibility of spirit impersonation, which does sometimes happen. One of things I learned from experimenting with spiritualism in my teens is that there are many spirits out there that will say just about anything to keep you talking to them, and it's not much of a stretch to imagine that one might claim to be Slender Man when contacting a devoted fan. Still, to influence living people into launching attacks said spirit would have to either be very powerful, or more likely, suggesting courses of action that already appeal to the person in question.

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Anonymous said...

Seems like Slender Man meme may be turning in to a Frakenstein's monster (or out of control golem). If as the commenter in the previous post suggested something is feeding off the attention that this meme vehicle is providing, then it may just be seeking more plentiful energy (blood). Personally I don't think that the Slender Man shell is being hijacked by a single entity but a number of different parasites or a composite entity.

Scott Stenwick said...

I'm still not sure it's an entity at all. The meme has millions of fans, and so far we've seen two attacks involving three people, all young teens - just the sort of folks who like to read creepypasta and so forth.

At this point I see it as a possibility, but an unlikely one. The second attack was probably influenced by all the media coverage of the first. I think the girl probably would have attacked her mother anyway, but maybe wouldn't have bothered to dress as Slender Man without all the coverage.

Basically, I need to see a lot more unlikely things happening before I'm going to be convinced that this is a spirit of some sort at work, rather than a couple of disturbed kids with active imaginations.