How do urban legends begin?
Are they just stories? Or do they arrive through some sliver of truth, like escaped serial killers or accidental hangings?
Sometimes, only sometimes, they simply appear.
“we didn’t want to go, we didn’t want to kill them, but its persistent silence and outstretched arms horrified and comforted us at the same time…”
1983, photographer unknown, presumed dead.
One of two recovered photographs from the Stirling City Library blaze. Notable for being taken the day which fourteen children vanished and for what is referred to as “The Slender Man”. Deformities cited as film defects by officials. Fire at library occurred one week later. Actual photograph confiscated as evidence.
1986, photographer: Mary Thomas, missing since June 13th, 1986.
Who Is The Slender Man?
The Slender Man is no doubt a product of the Internet. In 2009, a thread appeared on the Something Awful forums titled “Create Paranormal Images,” which tasked members with creating spooky photos they could pass off as actual paranormal evidence.
One user posted the two images and captions above, and an urban legend was born.
More pictures and stories followed, tracing the legend of the Slender Man, a tall, featureless creature in a black suit and tie.
Often portrayed with something like tentacles emanating from his hands, or even multiple limbs, the Slender Man is pale and ill-defined, seemingly found wherever children may be near. No one knows exactly what he’s up to.
A strange figure lurking in the shadows, intentions unknown.
The less said, the better.
Well, now here’s a question…
Is The Slender Man Real?
Just spend a moment browsing for the Slender Man on your favorite search engine, and you’ll see many people wondering if he is, in fact, real.
It’s an odd question that deserves an odd answer.
The Slender Man Wiki provides several possible explanations for what, exactly, the Slender Man is, based on his storied history and the variety of interpretations. Perhaps he’s a trans-dimensional being, or something even more exotic, like the so-called Quantum Theory:
“…sophisticated versions of quantum theory suggest that Slenderman is himself a sort of natural embodiment of probability, a fundamental substratum that, although seemingly composed of billions of particles like humans, acts as a single quantum particle.”
But the more compelling possibility is that the Slender Man is quite real, and has actually been with us since the dawn of mankind.
That’s an odd statement, but have we not always been followed by stories of bogeymen and shadow people?
People around the world have witnessed The Hat Man, for example — that tall phantom wearing a top hat, blink and he’s gone. Shadow people, too, those dark figures that seem to appear in your peripheral vision, often a sign of bad things to come. And, given the presence of children in the Slender Man mythos, I can’t help but think back to the haunting stories of the Black Eyed Kids.
The Slender Man, if nothing else, is a modern twist on traditional folkore and urban legends.
The Tupla Effect
Even in the early days of the Slender Man, though, people wondered if his popularity would have a strange effect, suggesting that this creature of myth may very well become a tulpa, something real.
In certain esoteric circles, it’s believed that when enough people imagine and give thought to something, it’s possible that these thoughts may take on a physical form, known as a “thoughtform.”
A tulpa is a small-scale thoughtform, usually produced by an individual or small group, like a poltergeist. The Philip Aylesford experiment is a good example of this.
An egregore, on the other hand, is something much greater, on the scale of nations or corporations, shared ideas by vast numbers of people. You don’t even have to be aware that you’re contributing to the formation of an egregore; you need only be part of the collective consciousness.
Today there’s fan art, video games, alternate reality games, creepypastas, and even a popular YouTube series based on The Slender Man. There are also a variety of Slender Man types, if you will, different approaches to the myth. He has become very much a part of Internet culture.
Could we be inadvertently creating our own nightmare? Is the Slender Man a variation on old myths? Is it something new?
Tales of the bogeyman. Tales of the shadows. Something dark left over from our past. I can only ask: Have you seen the Slender Man?