In May 2014, a 12-year old girl was found bleeding on a footpath near Waukesha, Wisconsin, and everybody was shocked to hear her two best friends, also 12, had tried to kill her.
Not that they did not like her anymore, but they wanted to please an enigmatic figure called the Slender Man, who was nothing but an Internet meme.
News of the Waukesha stabbing traveled around the world, frightening millions of parents. What is the Internet doing to our kids? However, as it turned out the Internet and its memes were not really to blame.
The two would-be killers were both troubled children with severe mental problems that did not allow them to distinguish what’s real and whatnot.
The victim, Payton Leutner almost bled to death after her friends abandoned her in the woods, but she fought for her life and crawled to a path where a cyclist eventually found her.
“My body was working so hard to keep itself alive,” she later recalled. “It was probably like, ‘Vision isn’t really a priority right now.’”
As they were arrested, Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier admitted their guilt and gave the police an explanation that left them dumbstruck.
They did it to please Slender Man and become his proxies.
They were not kidding, they were not making things up, the two girls believed Slender Man was real.
Who Or What Is Slender Man?
Everybody loves memes these days and Slender Man came to exist in 2009 as a meme, a joke someone made in Photoshop.
Its creator was one Eric Knudsen, aka Victor Surge by his username on the Internet.
It all started with a challenge posted on a website called Something Awful, which did not deal in gore or anything, but rather in the fun stuff.
The challenge was simple enough – take ordinary pictures and turn them into something scary by adding some ghosts, monster, or whatever. Eric Knudsen decided to test his photoshopping skills.
“It was pretty spontaneous,” he told an interviewer in 2011. “I saw some of the pictures in the thread and just decided to make something that I myself would find creepy.”