Well, probably you, now that you’ve read this blog.
Just a small little tangent at the start. I’m writing this post from my parents’ house in Austin; to most, that won’t mean anything. To those who know me personally, you may see where I’m going with this.
THERE ARE FRIGGIN TREES EVERYWHERE.
The neighborhood’s in the middle of a forest. It’s slightly disconcerting after having read through so many blogs screaming at me to stay away from trees. I’ll be sure to let you know if any of the trees I see are in formal wear.
On topic now:
One of Slendy’s defining characteristics is how he frequently targets children. In the first Slender Man picture, he is shown in the background of a playground, with the tagline that all the children in the photograph disappeared afterwards. Yet as I said in my “What is a Slender Man?” post, within the ARGs, children only make up a small portion of the victims. It’s incredibly rare for a story to make any reference to Slender Man actively hunting a child during the time frame in which the story takes place (the exception would be Dreams in Darkness, but sadly that doesn’t count, for reasons I’ll explain when I post about that ARG. Another exception is Vengeance, which was written by an 11 year old. Its quality is exactly what you’d expect from an 11 year old writer who doesn’t know where the shift key is.) But it would be statistically irresponsible to claim that since the majority of ARGs are written by people between 16 to their mid-twenties, the majority of Slender Man victims fall in that range. All it proves is that the majority of victims who actively blog/upload YouTube videos are between 16 to mid-twenties. To get a clear idea of the demographics of Slendy’s victims, we’d need to do a large scale survey, which is sadly not within my abilities. Perhaps we can convince the United States government to put on their census forms, “Are you being followed by a very tall and faceless man in a business suit?”
While we can’t make a cool looking diagram which details the exact demographics of the victims of Slender Man, we can attempt to narrow it down by categorizing the groups of people he does target.
Categories of Victims
For simplicities sake, we’ll define a child here by its biological definition, someone between the stages of birth and puberty, rather than a societal one. According to most stories, these are Slender Man’s favorite victims. This is possibly related to the theory that Slender Man exists through our minds and belief; children have a very strong imagination, and are known for their fear of monsters hiding in the dark. A being such as Slender Man could easily manipulate and feed on such attributes. Why children are his favorite prey, I have no idea. Possibly Slender Man is really one of PedoBear’s many disguises.
Some interesting things to note are, A) Slendy often will take multiple children at once, and B) Slendy tends to not go after children as much while focusing on an older victim.
The first isn’t always the case; sometimes Slender Man will spend long periods of time breaking down a single child, as he would an older human. But whereas this singular attention is the norm for us old folks, in children, Slendy’s basic modus operandi seems to be, “Show up, grab a bunch of kids, maybe light something on fire, leave.” This might be because children are a much easier mental target than older targets, again possibly due to the more active imaginations.
The second point is just a reiteration of the seeming lack of child disappearances that occur within ARGs, as the attention is focused on the main characters (who are all too old to be considered children). Honestly, this is more likely due to the plot’s focus point not being on kids than anything else, but it’s always seemed weird to me how rarely we see Slendy actually grabbing kids.
Escaped Child Victims
This is another of Slendy’s favorite types of victims. If a child he wanted to catch escapes him, he has a nasty habit of going after that child again, after he/she has grown older. It’s a popular idea amongst many ARGs, such as Seeking Truth, In My Head, possibly Discuss The Findings, and Dreams in Darkness (although again, that one doesn’t really count). It gives Slender Man a motivation to be hunting the main character which isn’t totally arbitrary, as well as giving them a preexisting link to him, which can be expanded on within the story. In-universe, it really just makes Slender Man a poor loser, but it also means that there’s no way to escape. Even if you get away from him, years down the line, he’ll still come for you. You’ll never know when. You probably won’t even remember your original encounters with him; those memories tend to be suppressed deep down, so you won’t have any preparations for when you face him. One day, he’ll just appear in your life once more, to finally claim you.
Just in case, ya know, you didn’t want to sleep tonight.
People Who Know Too Much
This is the reason I’m going to mysteriously vanish at some point in time within the near future. I still cannot pinpoint the exact ARG which created this idea, but it’s been a very strong one ever since. Essentially, anyone who gets too involved in the Mythos is likely to be hunted by Slender Man. There is no definitive, final reason which explains the reason for this, but there are some theories. One is that Slender Man is trying to protect himself. The more people learn about him, the more likely they are to find a way to harm, or kill him. By driving them mad and killing them before they can do so, he removes potential threats.
The alternative is related to the concept of Slender Man being a creature of belief. If his existence is related to belief, than the people he would be strongest around are those who believe in him the most. Which would be all of us who follow the Mythos. Even if we know he doesn’t really exist, there’s still a small part of our mind that watches out for him. It’s the part that makes me really want to turn on all the lights while I’m reading Slenderblogs at night, or causes me to do a double take when I see someone in a suit.
People Who Trespass On His Territory
This category is only a hypothesis, with much less information backing it up than the others. One of the theories for the reason Slender Man begins following Alex and J in Marble Hornets is because they go too close to the red tower which is somehow related to Slendy. Another possible example is in Scared, where Drew’s first encounter of Slender Man is when he goes into the woods (Slendy’s territory) for the purpose of making Slender Man videos.
Now, two shaky examples doesn’t make for very good science. Both pieces of evidence are just unsupported interpretations; there’s little in them to back themselves up. And there are no clear guidelines to define what exactly Slender Man’s territory would be. In all likelihood, Robert Sage’s swamp would be better suited to be called Slendy’s territory than anything of this world. But I included this, because it is one of the many hypotheses about Slender Man’s victims, albeit a weak one.
Well…. Um…. That defeats the entire point of me trying to narrow down what type of people Slender Man targets. While very rare, it isn’t unheard of for Slender Man to just start hunting down someone who has absolutely no connection with him at all. These are adults, who never encountered him as a child, haven’t heard of him online, and haven’t gone anywhere that might be one of Slendy’s hanging places. These people are arbitrarily chosen by Slender Man, without any motive behind it that I can understand. Such occurrences are rare; the only cases I’ve seen have been in the Slender Man Chronicles, My Name is Zytherys, Curious Little Girl, and Marble Hornets (if you don’t believe the trespass hypothesis). The problem with claiming that Slender Man arbitrarily chose his targets in those ARGs is that most of them are either ongoing or incomplete, so an explanation for Slendy’s interest may simply have yet to come/was intended to come later.
Symptoms of the Victims
Most of those being hunted by Slender Man display common symptoms which identify them as victims. The symptoms vary in severeness, depending on how much Slender Man has affected them. Those who are mentally strong are usually able to minimize the symptoms, whereas those who are unable to defend themselves from Slender Man’s mental attacks succumb quickly.
Essentially, Slendersickness if some form of illness that results from close proximity to Slender Man. It can vary from a simple cough, to a debilitating fever. Medicine can help with the symptoms of the illness, but won’t cure it. According to M’s Tutorial, the sickness is caused by the body not responding well to contact with a being not of this reality.
Writing in a Notebook or Blogging
It’s very common for victims to use a notebook of some sort to express what they’re going through, or to blog about their experiences. It’s now theorized that this isn’t just something people are doing for emotional relief, but is in fact another way that Slender Man affects the mind. Why he makes people write, again, no definite answer. Possibly as a means to spread himself further: people read about him, bringing themselves into the Mythos, giving him strength, as well as a new set of victims. This may even apply to the blogs whose purpose is spreading knowledge on how to survive Slender Man; Slendy’s already shown on multiple occasions that, just because one survivor has been able to repel/harm him with some method, doesn’t mean anyone else will be able to get the same results using that method. In a way, it’s like giving one person hope, so that they get online to spread the word, unknowingly infecting many more while simultaneously giving ineffectual advice.
Another possibility is that Slender Man uses the notebooks/blogs to try and create emotional weakness in his victims. These people are opening their hearts out in these words, and while they do that, they’re emotionally vulnerable. If this is the case, than blogs may be more helpful for the victims than a notebook would; with a blog, readers and commenters can provide support during a victim’s moment of weakness, minimizing the danger. A notebook has no such support, which would allow Slender Man to take greater advantage of the moment of weakness.
So essentially, either blogs are horrible plague carriers or life savers. Great dilemma that.
Blackouts, or Changes of Location
Blacking out for periods of time, and often waking up in a different location some time after blacking out (or in a few rare cases, some time before when they blacked out.)
According to M, blackouts are caused by being touched by Slender Man, as the body shuts down from contact with something so foreign. The change in location or time would result from him Slenderwalking you to a different point in spacetime during the period of unconsciousness. In most people, this is a more advanced stage. Unless Slender Man is being particularly aggressive in hunting a victim, he usually waits before the victim’s mentality has broken down somewhat before moving in for physical contact.
Those whose minds are very close to breaking completely will often begin communicating only in cryptic codes. Some of this has to do with their sanity falling apart; normal communication is no longer fully possible for them. It also is often a part of their mind rebelling against Slendy’s influence. Codes are a way to communicate with others, while at the same time preventing Slender Man from learning of the message’s contents. But because of their decreasing sanity, and Slender Man’s mental influence, the codes are often as confusing as the messages they are encoded in. Cryptic phrases and codes will often continue after a victim has become a Slenderproxy, although these tend to be much more nonsensical in their content, or sometimes outright threatening.
Innocuousenough’s Blog - Toward a socioeconomic theory of the Slender Man: http://innocuousenough.wordpress.com/2010/09/22/toward-a-socioeconomic-theory-of-the-slender-man/
M’s Tutorial – Signs of Being Hallowed Out: http://getuphigh.blogspot.com/2010/07/signs-of-being-hallowed-out.html
So, in conclusion: It doesn’t matter who you are, we’re all screwed. Yeah, I was hoping for something more cheerful than that.
Final notes: I’ve caught up with Devil’s Hiding Place, It’s Your Very Own…!, Slender Man Chronicles, and White Rabbit Asylum. I’ve also finished reading Ichthyological.