Slender Man: Mystic Figure Turned Murderous Motivator?

The belief I chose to research is Slender Man, who is supposedly a spooky figure who takes the form of a pale man with no face and tentacles as arms who stalks and haunts people. This is a myth that was formulated through online forums that slowly grew in popularity and belief, particularly among teenagers. Information on this belief can easily be found on different news sources due to the crime that occurred because of it, and Slender Man can also be traced back to the original fictional posting on an online forum. This belief was popular in the early 2010’s, and it is important to know about because it was a widespread belief that caused two young girls to attack their friend in 2014.

There is much evidence this belief is based on a legend, and almost no evidence that Slender Man is an actual being. The evidence against the belief is that the original source of Slender Man can be found on a site called “Something Awful”, when users were prompted to use their Photoshop skills to come up with paranormal images. A man named Victor Surge created the first image of what is now known as Slender Man, and this image gained popularity as other users created new content such as fake newspaper articles and images about Slender Man. The further this fictional figure got from its original source, the more people started to believe he was an actual figure. The only evidence for the belief is the crime that occurred in Wisconsin as a result of this legend. Two 12-year-old girls claimed Slender Man commanded them to drag their friend into the woods and kill her. They believed that they were hearing Slender Man in their heads and that he would appear to them after their friend’s death. Since then, one of the girls has been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

As the fictional character gained popularity and moved further from its original post, the origins of this character grew murky, and people began to believe that Slender Man may actually exist. Although there is no evidence this figure actually existed, people believed he did because of the sheer prominence of the character online, or an argumentum ad populum. Another reason for this belief is our tendency as humans to desire explanations for things, and in this case, spooky feelings and happenings could easily be blamed on the existence of a figure like Slender Man. This is an example of confirmation bias, and can be clearly seen in the attack that occurred in Wisconsin. There is no doubt that at least one, if not both of the attackers were dealing with dark thoughts, and all they had to do was log in on their online forum and stumble upon Slender Man content in order to find an explanation for what they were feeling.

This was a belief in the United States, where believers were bred through the internet. With the popularity of the internet in America growing at this time, the belief was cultivated rapidly, particularly among adolescents. This also takes into account the fact that Slender Man was only popular on the internet, and nothing else (such as the news or in movies). This creates an aura of spookiness and urban folklore that perpetuates the idea that it could, in fact, exist despite disconfirming evidence.

In conclusion, the belief in Slender Man that existed in the early 2010’s and even caused an attack in 2014 is based on a fictional character from the internet. However, this does not mean that the people who believed in Slender Man were crazy for believing it. The combination of popularity, confirmation bias, and the sheer growth of the internet during this time created an online culture that was perfect for breeding a belief in a legendary figure. Unfortunately, the belief in this figure did cause harm in the attack in 2014. Since then, there have been many media outlets who have clearly disproven this belief, and it is rare to find someone who still believes in Slender Man today.

Dewey, C. (2016, July 27). The complete history of ‘Slender Man,’ the meme that
compelled two girls to stab a friend. Washington Post. Retrieved from

Gabler, E. (2014, June 02). Charges detail Waukesha pre-teens’ attempt to kill classmate. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved from

20 thoughts on “Slender Man: Mystic Figure Turned Murderous Motivator?

  1. I can very vividly remember the peak popularity of slender man as an adolescent. In the 2010s I was a middle schooler and part of a theater program for youth that would meet after schools and the slender man app was the way to pass time when you weren’t rehearsing. I always remembered it as just a fun and spooky way to pass time, but I think it is interesting now to know that the belief was popular for children that age, and it makes me wonder what was so intriguing at the time.

  2. I’ve always found this story to be very interesting, as a middle/high schooler my friends and I would play the online Slenderman game and we were convinced that by downloading the game onto a computer that Slenderman himself would find us. Also, every year we would use someone’s parents’ work building to have a halloween party after hours and would play a real life Slenderman game we made up, it was a lot of fun even if it was kind of terrifying to do in a pitch black warehouse!

  3. I think the whole Slender Man craze is an excellent example of how internet/meme culture can have significant effects on the real world. While media has always had a role in our cultural myths, the internet has made them much easier to proliferate, so I wonder if these kinds of beliefs will become increasingly popular as the Internet continues to become more ubiquitous.

    • I agree with your opinion. Today the internet has a wide range of topics, some of which are a part of the dark net. It has become very easy for people to be influenced by social media. Firstly there are the hackers, who want to steal everything from us and now there are these memes and fictional characters that are stripping away the tender innocence of children.

  4. Similar to the comments above, I wonder if we’ll see any stories similar to the one you mentioned, since young minds are often very malleable. Slender Man’s popularity kind of reminds me of the ‘Momo’ hoax going on right now; regardless of just how widespread the whole craze really was, it makes me question just how easy it would be to infiltrate children’s shows, movies, and games in order to brainwash them with threatening messages.

    • This is kind of terrifying to think about, we see stuff like this in movies all of the time. There hasn’t been a real instance of brain washing, that I can think of? It also makes me think of Black Mirror, how it really freaked a lot of people out but it wasn’t THAT far off from what our reality is.

    • I can understand why you would say that, but there is one difference between them. For the slender man case, the murder took place because they were trying to impress the fictional character ‘slender man’. But in the momo challenge we can not find a causal relationship between the deaths and the game.

  5. I love societies fascination with characters like this. People love to make videos of supposed sightings of these creatures, youtube it a great place for this. Just a search of Slender man on youtube will give you thousands of videos of people claiming to see him, catch him on video, or having an interaction with him. Some are really funny to watch, and others kind of creepy!

  6. I have never heard of slender man before so I found your post interesting. It is crazy what confirmation bias and popularity can make you believe. People might really believe that they had seen and encountered slender man even if he wasn’t real.

    • Oh yes, they really do, and its not like they fake it.(well most of them do, but some of this really start believing this). There are some people out there, if you listen to them talking about these fictional characters, you would feel amazed to see how dedicatedly they talk about all this. Sometimes you start believing everything that they are saying, especially if you don’t have any prior knowledge about the character.

  7. I had followed this case a lot and seen many videos of the court hearing. This case was recently discussed in my criminology class too. What I know about the case is a bit different from what is written in the blog. When I heard about the case for the first time, it said that the two young girls were trying to impress the fictional character called slender man, by sacrificing their friend. Recently, If I am correct even a movie came out about slender man.

  8. Another interesting fact about slender man stabbing case is that the girl is not put behind bars instead is put in a mental institution. Her conviction is 25 years in a mental hospital, which is the maximum punishment possible. Is there anyone who thinks that she should be put behind bars, in a prison? I would love to know your opinions about the conviction.

  9. I saw someone else comment about the online slender man video game, and I can also remember playing that when I was younger. The graphics were really slow but my friend and I would play it in our dark room and would always scream when slender man would pop up on the screen. I remember hearing about the court case involving the slender man killing, but didn’t hear much about it after the slender man craze started to die down. It would be fascinating to learn more about it, and whether it really involved a belief in slender man, or if the media just blew it way out of proportion!

  10. I had heard of slender man as pre-teen. Slender man was pretty much the butt of every joke at my school; people joked that he was what children were afraid of under their beds or in their closets. Since I have never heard of the case, what happened to the other girl if only one of them was diagnosed with schizophrenia? Maybe she was prone to suggestibility by the friend with schizophrenia and affected by the slender man rumors she had read about online.

  11. I have watched a video it said the slender man is created by Victor in 2006 in a Supernatural Works Competition. Victor made the first photo of the slender man and write a story with it. Then more and more people start to make the story for the slender man. Slender man’s hoax really scares me at first. But I don’t think such a remarkable person hardly cannot see by others. Overall, it’s always amazing to read more post like this.

  12. I think Slender Man is still believed today especially as younger kids are stumbling upon it now as something new. My brother who is 9, just found about Slender Man and kind of gained a fear of him. So, I think its kinda hard to decide when a belief has died down. However, I think its very interesting because I assumed slender man was something to be scared of not to be worshipped. So, I find it so odd that two girls attacked their friend because Slender Man told them to. Its interesting to see people wanting Slender Man to be an actual figure instead of a fictional figure so they fall into confirmation bias to keep their belief alive.

  13. Hello!
    I read another post that talked about Slender man and thought the idea was fascinating and creepy! It reminded me of the Momo internet idea that we spoke about! I think the internet is the perfect place for these creepy beliefs to grow. So many people can give input and allow one idea to grow into something bigger. It makes me sad though to hear about the one girl being murdered by her friends. It makes a little more sense knowing one had major mental health issues but still is alarming!!

  14. This is me hearing about this for the first time. I am also from Germany and I do not think this belief traveled that far. It is crazy to believe what a belief or conspiracy can make people commit. This shows how much power the mind has. It is also interesting that even though there is not much evidence expect that one case, that some people believe it is an actual person existing.

  15. The belief of Slender Man let me think about how this kind of urban legend would influence peoples’ self-idenfication, especially for teenagers. Although I don’t think everyone in the internet talking about Slender Man really would believe his authenticity, for part of the teenagers who can’t find any support from peers and family may seek help from the internet groups. However, because of the anonymity in internet, most of people are not responsible enough to give these kind of help for teenagers. This may cause them really devote themselves into the whole urban legend beliefs, and hurt people around them and themselves in the end.

  16. I remember of hearing of slenderman when I was in middle school. I heard that he was a man that would take kids if you saw him in a picture. It is crazy how much the internet can contribute to the belief in conspiracies. I never knew that this whole theory started with a guy who submitted a photoshopped picture. Do you believe that in today society that conspiracy theories are more popular due to the media?

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