Photo Credited to Shadowhaze (Does anyone use their real name anymore?)
It isn't often you see the genesis of an urban legend. Slenderman has been described as a supernaturally tall man with no face and, sometimes, tentacles, dressed in a suit who stalks and captures children and teens. He prefers foggy, woodland areas and seems to turn arson when the need arises. The Mythical Creatures Guide reports: "It would stalk the victim for long amounts of time causing what is known as
"Slender sickness" causing massive paranoia, nose bleeds, nightmares, hallucinations... and other dangerous symptoms." He stalks his prey relentlessly, appearing on their visual periphery for days, even months. The victims either go mad or succumb to his hypnotic beckoning, impaled on his arms and taken away to oblivion. His presence disrupts electronic equipment, but videos and films of him have been recorded.

Detail of photo above. I think this is
the creepiest photo of Slenderman.
Some claim that Slenderman represents a parental threat, the constant paternal vigilance and control that drives teens to misery and suicide, but that is universal and timeless, normal. I think Slenderman's specter could only appear in our time.The horror of Slenderman is his silent stalking, his constant watching. In an age of reality television where every teen has a blog, a vlog, and is otherwise attempting to be seen, he represents our most basic fear - the fulfilled wish. He sees everything you do, just as you always wanted, until that lack of anonymity, the haunting omnipresence of a faceless public, slowly drives you mad.

The internet may both enable and destroy this urban legend. When the pictures and videos go viral, they lose their source credits, lending them authenticity or at least a perceived acceptance. A quick search for "Slender Man", however, shows the humble fictional origins of the creature. Victor Surge created Slenderman in 2009 for a contest on the Something Awful forum. Does his near term origin make Slenderman more or less threatening?

The character has certainly caught on, spawning Alternate Reality Games, viral videos, a song (by Sable), a book, multiple sightings, and even an iPhone app game (by Rory Harvey). If the terrible films "Intruders" and "The Tall Man" are any indication, there's probably a movie in it for someone, one more shaky-cam POV for the lexicon.

What do you think? Will Slenderman survive in our pop culture or drift into that great internet obscurity? Just a moment, my television and lights are going haywire. I'm going to look out the window and see what's wrong. Be right back...

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