In May of 2014, two 12-year-old girls stabbed their friend 19 times and left her for dead. Last week, police released their interrogation tapes taken shortly after the incident. Why did these two girls nearly murder their friend? Because they feared that if they didn’t, Slender Man would kill them and their families.
Who is this Slender Man? Slender Man is a tall, slender, faceless man in a dark suit with tendrils that can come out of his back. He is dangerous and evil and goes after children. He might kidnap them or eat them or take them to his mansion in the woods. Oh, and he is imaginary.
Creative people go online and add their take and their creative energy to the myth. He is a product of online horror fan fiction… or is he? No, he is. Slender Man is a make-believe boogieman. People go online and add to the myth through stories, faked videos, and photoshopped photos.
So why would anyone even two 12-year-old girls believe he is real? Why do people believe God and the Devil are real? Same reason. Usually however, people are aware that they are adding to the myth of Slender Man with the intention of creating fiction.
But give it time; one-hundred years from now there just might be a real Slender Man religion. People might forget that Slender Man was a product of collective imagination and some of those fan fiction stories could be canonized into some sort of holy book. Slender Man believers, or “Creepypastafarians,” as they might be called will assert that there is more evidence for Slender Man than there is for Barack Obama. They might brandish all those fake photos and videos to support their case.
Because at the end of the day Slender Man is really no different than any other religion. This is how Scientology got started. This is how Mormonism got started. This is how Islam got started. And yes, this is how Christianity and Judaism got started too. Give a myth some time and it will become a religion. So is it really all that surprising that these two young girls very nearly murdered their friend over a myth? Fundamentalist religious believers do that all the time.
Christians often tell me that the Gospels must be true because some of the early Christians died for their beliefs. Well, I bet these two girls would have died for their Slender Man beliefs too. They were certainly willing to kill for them and it probably won’t be long before we see a news story of someone dying for Slender Man either.
Fortunately, we can prevent that from happening. No, we don’t have to censor Slender Man from the internet (as if that is even possible), but rather we can teach kids and adults how to think critically about these myths and religions. By educating people how to ask the right questions, not hold beliefs above the evidence, and not taking any answers on faith, we can prevent anyone from taking Slender Man or any other religion seriously.
People can still have fun with the Slender Man myth even though they know it is fiction. Religious believers can still hold on to all their ridiculous rituals and benefit from all the things that their church provides and yet still acknowledge the obvious… that God is as imaginary as Slender Man and isn’t nearly as snazzy a dresser.
- Same Rhetoric; Different Religion (skepticink.com)
- Tom Cruise, Scientology, Christianity, and Hilarity (skepticink.com)
- Who Watches The Devil’s Due? (skepticink.com)
- 5 Best Books To De-Convert A Christian (skepticink.com)
- Catholic Priest: Disbelief in the Devil main cause of atheism (examiner.com)