I’ve recently been alerted to the horrific events that took place in Wisconsin.
I’ve received both messages of concern and blame, and while it seems that the Creepypasta Wiki is bearing the brunt of media attention and finger-pointing, I feel it’s necessary for me to make a statement.
First and most importantly, my condolences go out to all the families involved. I cannot even imagine how painful and confusing and awful this has to be for them. I don’t have children, but I can imagine how my mother would feel if something like this happened to me, and it absolutely breaks my heart to even consider her having to go through that. The families of the young ladies who committed this crime also have my heart going out to them – I know this can’t be easy for them as well, and I’m sure they’ll have to deal with mistargeted backlash and anger even while they try to get through such a trying time themselves. So when I say that I extend my deepest sympathies and my prayers to those affected, I hope that you understand that I mean it. I know that words can seem hollow or come off as mere lip-service to the cynical, but it’s the truth.
Of course, the next thing I want to talk about is this site and the creepypasta phenomenon at large as I’m sure that many people are here because they want to know precisely what is being blamed for this event.
I’m going to edit in this point since it seems to be a very common misconception held by many of the people coming here to express their outrage. SLENDERMAN IS NOT A REAL PERSON/ENTITY. As far as I’m aware, most news outlets have done their due diligence and thus no media personality is claiming that Slenderman actually exists, so I’m not exactly sure where people are getting this misinformation. However, I’m still seeing quite a lot of comments from people who believe that A) he is a real person and B) he owns and is responsible for every single Creepypasta-related website, tumblr, YouTube channel, Facebook group, forum, and wiki. This is simply not true. Slenderman is not, nor has he ever been, anything more than a fictional character created by SomethingAwful user Victor Surge. As is the case with many other fictional characters, he has fans who indulge themselves by creating videos, games, and fanfictions about him, but this does not make him real any more than such fandom would make The Walking Dead or Batman real.
I am not Slenderman. I did not create Slenderman. This website is not, as some people have claimed, a Slenderman fan site. To put it in perspective, out of the almost 1600 stories hosted on this website, only 29 even tangentially relate to Slenderman. That means that only 1.81% of the posts on this website are Slenderman-related, so when I say later on in this statement that I’m not very familiar with him and in fact tried to discourage/reject stories about him, I mean it and I believe the numbers back me up. I hope that helps alleviate some of the confusion! If you are actually interested in learning more about Slenderman, the best I can recommend is the Marble Hornets wiki. To my knowledge (which, admittedly, is limited when it comes to this specific topic), that is the closest thing to a repository of “accepted” Slenderman lore as it gets.
I hope that edit sufficiently addresses some of the concerns and questions that people were raising in the comments.
Okay, moving on, and getting back to the original text of this statement:
Creepypasta comes from the word copypasta, which itself is a play on the “copy and paste” function. They were short, creepy stories that people spread around the internet for fun. This website is one of the many Creepypasta communities that accept submissions; people write their paranormal stories, I read them and decide which ones I personally like enough to post, and visitors read them and post comments – usually from the perspective of how the author can improve as a writer. I think that, more than other Creepypasta websites, we focus more on being a writer’s community. We have a spin-off site dedicated to getting feedback (don’t use so many ellipses, please don’t write romance stories about serial killers, please remember to proofread – that sort of thing) for authors who ask for blunt community critique and I try to do community promos for writers who self-publish or work on other projects like movies, anthologies, comics, and so on.
Creepypasta is not solely dedicated to horror and murder or revenge fantasies, despite what some media outlets claim. They come up, of course – but so do ghosts, zombies, angels, mythology, urban legends, conspiracies, lost civilizations, aliens and sci-fi, vengeful deities, as well as real-world struggles, sorrows, and dangers. It’s a wide umbrella of inspiration, to be sure, but I’m sure that anyone who has ever browsed the horror or paranormal or sci-fi sections of a library or bookstore has noticed just how vast the possibilities are within those genres.
I think that most of you will understand when I say it’s hard to justify pinning blame on an entire genre of writing. Unless you’re okay with blaming the world’s ills on Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft, I don’t believe that it makes sense to say paranormal writing or an interest in the macabre should be blamed or even used as an indicator of a “sick” person (as a few emails have already felt the need to call both myself and all the authors here). The human race has long held and encouraged a fascination with things that go bump in the night.
So while I understand and accept that some people will blame us as a way to channel their anger and grief, I simply cannot agree. While I cannot speak for the owners and operators of the hundreds of wikis, websites, and YouTube channels that exist in the Creepypasta fandom, I believe that the community members here are aware that as the admin of this specific website, I truly care about the people who visit this website. It’s for that reason that I’ve tried to take steps to keep this from becoming a mere shock site and turn it into a place where we could foster the interest of reading and writing. Obviously, we cater to people who find interest in the paranormal and all the weird and creepy things that exist in the universe, but I believe placing blame solely on an interest in reading/writing about horror, paranormal, myths, urban legends, etc for a tragedy would be off the mark. Hundreds of thousands of people read scary stories, play horror video games, watch TV shows about ghost-hunting and all other varieties of the macabre and creepy (Hannibal and Dexter come to mind as recent wildly-popular shows that one could argue romanticized killing far more than this site ever could) and if we could truly blame any violent crimes solely on one specific form of entertainment as the trigger – well, I suppose it would be a relief as we’d be able to expunge said cause and clear the world of such awful happenings.
However, the fact of the matter is it can’t be that simple. Most people don’t watch Hannibal and turn into serial killers. The popularity of the Paranormal Activity franchise did not cause a spike in violent crimes. I play Skyrim as a pickpocketing rogue, but I’ve never so much as stolen a pack of gum, nor have I murdered anyone. You can insert countless examples here of people enjoying popular culture without acting it out in real life, so I hope that you see my point.
This isn’t to say that I believe that anything goes with regards to entertainment. I’ve mentioned it quite often in the comments here, as well as in the FAQ and on our writing review sister site, but I do draw the line with what I’m willing to accept and post as entertainment on my website. I’ve tried to contact writers who sent in things that troubled me – particularly teens who were clearly writing out their own unhealthy, violent revenge fantasies – and tried to direct them to websites or hotlines where they could find someone to talk to if they were having trouble. For the sake of both my own sanity and that of my readers, I have policies about flat-out rejecting things that I believed glorified abuse or suicide. I know that we live in a culture where, for example, sexual violence is considered so entertaining that one of the top-rate TV shows is entirely dedicated to a new assault every week (Law & Order SVU) and I believe it would be dishonest to say that things like that don’t contribute to people becoming desensitized. We recently had a conversation in the comments about “fridging” women in stories – the tendency for authors to violently kill off a woman in order to give a male character a backstory or motivation – and I absolutely believe that such a phenomenon, for example, does betray the internalized misogyny that tends to be prevalent in entertainment.… Read the rest