Before the news of the stabbing and attempted murder crimes came out that were attributed to this “Slender Man” character, I had not even heard of the concept. Even though its origins date all the way back to 2009.
The character started as a meme, and over the years, the concept has grown into a fairly large subculture, found though out the Internet. If I am understanding correctly what is reported by the media on the subject of the slender man crimes, its that all of the accused were involved in some sort of “slender man” role playing game (or situation). I could be wrong about that (if the media is as adept on getting the background of this story correct as they usually are, then chances are I am WAY off ).
Either way, this post is not so much focused on the crimes, nor the concept that apparently drove them. Its more on, the background situations that allowed these delusions to foster to this point.
When I look at this situation, I am reminded of the “struggle” of many parents of my (and the previous) generation, against the ills of television (and other “corrupting” forms of culture of the time). There was much concern as to the quality of the programing that was on the tube, and as to how it would affect its viewers (the children!). And because of the nature of culture, many people (including one of my still favorite artists, Marilyn Manson) made a big career out of stepping over the thin white line. The more push back, the better the results for the “oppressed”.
Back then, even though many parents were waging war on the various influences out side of the home, many called out their bluff, by pointing out the obvious fact that, they have total control within their homes. It does not matter what is transmitted down the cable wire, everything within a home, is the domain of the parents. If the parents find something offensive, then they can easily control it. They have no excuse as to why they can NOT be fully in control of such things.
Fast forward to today. It is an interesting time in comparison to even the past decade. When you consider the nature of media.
Not to long ago, much of the media and cultural influences that were encountered by many of us, were one directional. Television, movies, music, was not interactive. It came to you, and that was it.
Which is quite a difference, in comparison to the digitalized world that we live in today. Sure, we still view a lot of single directional cultural phenomenons in life. But the change between then and now, is the ability to easily find and discuss all sorts of things (including media phenomenons) with like minded people.
Before, if you went out and seen a good (or shitty) movie, that conversation was not likely to go much past your inner circle of friends or acquaintances. Now you can easily join a discussion with hundreds or thousands of participants. Modern media is not just a single channel, its interactive.
Which illustrates an interesting problem, in terms of media phenomenons. Interactivity can make many phenomenons, fully engaging. As seems to be the case with this whole “slender man” situation.
There are likley hundreds of people, that participate in this phenomenon to varying degrees, strictly as a hobby. Everyone has their own interests.
But then there are those that may, for whatever reason, take the whole phenomenon WAY to seriously (as seems to be the case here). The reasons may differ (low intelligence, mental illness), but the result is none the less the same.
Many are likely to lay blame on the phenomenon, for the irrational actions of its followers. I am sure that it is already happening. But like blaming Marilyn Manson for the Columbine massacre, it entirely takes the focus off of where it should be.
In the case of the Kleebold/Harris duo, there was a lot of evidence that the crimes were planned a long time in advance, and there was much time that it is said that many people (including parents), should have known that something was up. Apparently one of the boys actually had a piece of a sawed off shot gun sitting on his dresser, when it was searched by police (after the incident). Apparently he was so confident in his parents ignorance of his life, that he didn’t feel any need to hide that obvious piece of his later intentions.
I view this whole “Slender Man” situation, in the same way. To commit the crimes that they did in the name of the phenomenon, they must have been EXTREMELY dedicated to it in life. Im talking hours and hours a day. And yet, even if this was going on, apparently nobody noticed. Friends and acquaintances are one thing. But parents and people that you live with, are another.
I understand that it is not always easy to keep a close eye on children (and their activities) in the modern age. The economy has most everyone working more then ever, and the Internet and smart phones have opened an entirely new can of worms in terms of parental guidance.
And yet, this is still not an excuse. There are ways to restrict Internet usage on PC’s/Laptops, and smart phones paid for by parents ARE in their control. Yet once again, I am guessing that I will hear the buck of blame in this case, being passed on.
Back in the day, the buck was passed to Marilyn Manson. Today, it will likely be passed to a non-existent entity (there is already calls to shut the offending website that the girls used down. Here it goes!).
What I am curious about, is when people will stop kicking the can away, and take responsibility for mistakes on their end. Not only the parents of children involved in these sorts of situations (let me be clear on that), but EVERYONE who is into passing the buck.
People make mistakes, there is no shame in admitting it.
The longer we distance ourselves from the problem, the longer that the solution will be hopelessly elusive.