Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘Internet memes

Two Young Girls in Waukesha Try to Kill Classmate to “Please Slenderman”

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Yesterday, news broke that not fifty miles up the road from me in Waukesha, WI, two twelve-year old girls had tried to murder their equally young classmate.

Their motive? To please “The Slender Man,” also known as “Slenderman.” This is a fictional character who’s often depicted wearing a black suit — with tendrils coming out the back — and lives in a mansion in the forest up North.

I’d never heard of The Slender Man before the two girls were arrested and charged. Apparently, this Internet sensation has been around since 2009. And as the CreepyPasta.wiki site itself said, most people know that The Slender Man is fictional.

However, these two twelve-year-old girls didn’t realize this. And because they didn’t, another young girl is in the hospital right now, recovering from nineteen stab wounds — one of which missed a major artery by what’s been reported as “a millimeter” by both WTMJ Channel 4 and WITI Fox 6 in Milwaukee.

As Jim Stingl, opinion writer for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, put it:

The pair of shaggy-haired sixth-graders, according to the charges against them, plotted a murder for the most outlandish reason. They wanted to please Slender Man — a make-believe demon that became real in their jacked-up imaginations — and run away to live with him in, of all places, the Nicolet National Forest in northern Wisconsin. They had packed bags and were going to walk there after the slaying.

For most of us, it’s a freak show. For the 12-year-old victim clinging to life, and for her family and friends, it’s a nightmare worse than anything you’ll find on Creepypasta Wiki.

As a writer, I am appalled by this tragedy.

I’m frustrated that these two young girls could plan for what’s been reported as a year to kill a classmate without anyone knowing except themselves. (This according to just about every news person working for HLN Cable News this afternoon, including Dr. Drew Pinsky, Jane Velez-Mitchell, and Nancy Grace.) I’m shocked that anyone would believe a character clearly drawn as fictional (a really slim man in a dark suit with tentacles, whose face you can’t look at lest you drop dead on the spot) could be somehow appeased (or worse, joined) by killing a classmate.

But I’m also not happy with some who are blaming the website CreepyPasta.wiki for this particular crime, merely for having what’s the Internet equivalent of what used to be called “campfire horror stories” on their site.

As a post called “Fiction, Reality and You” from user Sloshedtrain at CreepyPasta.wiki says:

According to the story, the girls read about Slenderman here on this wiki, and of course the usual response lead to hostility and blaming towards the wiki by some “very concerned parents”. Some calling for the censorship and shutdown of the wiki.

Will these people succeed on their quest? Most likely not. These are the same people who think violent video games help create mass murderers, because it is convenient to blame and point fingers.

Besides the backlash, this incident shows what happens when the line of fiction and reality ceases to exist. When a person truly believes that Internet short stories are cold hard facts. When a person attempts to replicate works of fiction to the point others are harmed. And for this, I’m going to make myself loud and clear:

ALL WORKS PRESENTED ON THIS WIKI AND OTHER SITES (INCLUDING SLENDERMAN, JEFF THE KILLER, BEN, SONIC.EXE, ETC) ARE FICTIONAL STORIES AND CHARACTERS (Note: bold-face type and punctuation were rendered exactly as in the original document. BC)

So there you have it. Two twelve-year-old girls try to commit murder, because they cannot separate reality from fantasy, and are now being charged as adults.

It’s awful. It’s shocking. It’s disgusting. It’s distressing.

But as a fiction writer, it makes me wonder . . . will I start having to say in every post, “Remember, this is a fictional character we’re talking about” because I write YA fantasy and my target audience isn’t that much older than these two deluded young girls?

Internet Memes Aside, Can Anything Stop US Gun Violence?

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Folks, I’m still much more sick than well, so I hope this post will make sense.  But I’m so tired of watching talking heads discuss various efforts in Washington, D.C., to curb gun violence as none of them seem to really understand what’s at stake.

What’s worse is the latest Internet meme, which goes something like this:

Right-wing gun owner (it’s always someone from the right, as if there are no left-wing gun owners, a logical fallacy): I told off a bunch of granola-eating hippie chicks at the sports bar yesterday!

Right-wing gun owner’s friend:  Really?

RWGO:  Yeah!  I told those hippies that if an intruder was in their house, dammit, they’d want a gun and they’d want it fast!

RWGOF:  Yeah?  Then what happened?

RWGO:  They agreed, put their tails between their legs, and left.  How about that?

First off, this meme has got to go for a number of reasons.

  1. It states the problem in extremely simplistic terms.
  2. RWGO always wins, because the granola eating hippie chicks are always stupid and can’t reason their way out of a paper bag.
  3. There’s never any mention of those legitimately trying to curb the spread of gun violence in the United States, such as the various police departments, elements of the U.S. Armed Forces (especially the National Guard and the Army Reserve), and the Border Patrol agents . .  . because guess what?   Curbing illegal guns coming in from Mexico, which has been mentioned many times on Fox News and other right-wing media sources, is also part of stopping the spread of gun violence!

Look.  The National Rifle Association has a much bigger media and lobbying presence than they probably deserve.  And the NRA’s stated message on curbing gun violence in this country (such as what happened in Aurora, CO, in Arizona, and at Sandy Hook Elementary School) is this: “The only way you can stop a bad man with a gun is by having a good man with a gun right there.”  Which is, in and of itself, an extremely simplistic message if you come right down to it.

There has to be a better way.   And I’m thinking that as the United States Senate couldn’t even come up with a simple agreement on background checks — something 86% of the country supports (including most Republicans and gun owners of all political persuasions) — we’re going to have to look outside the Congress to do it.

So whom should be we looking at, if the Congress is not capable or qualified to study this issue?  (Or perhaps even to ask the right questions, if the recent debate on the various amendments is any judge.  Mind, I appreciate principled objection, but so many of the legislators who voted against the background check legislation seemed like the blind leading the blind.)

Perhaps we need to look at the various police departments, to start with.  What do most sheriffs suggest when it comes to gun violence?  Do they think background checks will help?  (Why, or why not?)

Next, there is one thing most of my right-wing friends have agreed with from day one, and that’s that everyone who owns a gun should be properly trained.  I think that mandating a certain number of hours at the firing range for all gun owners (but most especially new ones) might be something various state legislatures can pursue.  And if you want to be stationed in a school (or you’re already a teacher, principal, or the like), taking an extra course on how to deal with pressure situations would not be amiss.

Because taking the training may at least help curb the incidents where someone who isn’t trained has a gun, and it goes off.  (Like Plaxico Burress.)  Sometimes, no one is hurt when this happens, but most of the time, someone is hurt or killed.

Finally, there needs to be a determination of what kinds of mental illness are the most dangerous.  One of the very few decent points I’ve heard from any right-wing pundits is that mental illness is a slippery slope.  Grief is often classified as a mental illness (it isn’t); having panic attacks is classified as a mental illness (which isn’t anywhere near as severe as someone overtly psychotic); someone who’s bipolar but always takes his/her medicine is still mentally ill, but has a controlled illness — and should not that person have a gun if he or she wants one?

Back to the Internet meme, though.

If someone came up to me in a coffee house, or in a sports bar, and said to me, “Hey, Barb!  I know you don’t like guns, but if someone was in your house and had a gun and was ten feet away, wouldn’t you want one?,” do you want to know my answer?

“Hell, no, I don’t want one!”  I’d say.  “I’d rather have a baseball bat.  That’s something where, even if the intruder gets it away from me, I’d at least get one good whack in — and it might even work to knock that gun out of the guy’s hand.”

Because, really.   I know I don’t like guns, I’ve not been trained to use one, and even if I went and learned at a rifle range or whatnot, I’d still be way below par because it’s really not my skill.  (Plus, hello?  I have carpal tunnel syndrome.  This wouldn’t make it easy for me to control a firearm.  Just sayin’.)

At any rate, what I’m trying to get at is that somehow, the left and right are now so polarized that Internet memes, like the one I discussed before, are taken at face value by many of my right-leaning friends.  And that’s as wrong as someone saying, “Background checks will get rid of all gun violence!,” something my right-leaning friends would automatically abhor (and rightly).

At this point, I don’t know what the hopes are for an honest dialogue among regular, honest Americans of all political persuasions.  I tend to think that way too many of my left-leaning friends don’t know any right-leaning people (or if they do, they don’t see any value in most of what they say), and that it’s the same way for my right-leaning friends — they see very little value in whatever their counterparts on the left (or in the center) have to say.

That’s sad.  That’s even shameful, considering how we as a country were founded because of a bunch of ornery dissenters.

But it’s where we’re at.  And because I’ve seen this Internet meme one too many times in the past twenty-four to forty-eight hours, I just had to speak up and say, “This meme is stupid.  Can’t we all use some logic, and just figure out a solution to these problems already?”

Because one thing’s for sure.  Our Congress is not about to do thing one about it.

———

Note: This is a heavily divisive issue.  Many of my friends on both sides have hair triggers and are extremely upset.  I want a dialogue, something that hasn’t yet occurred at the national level — I’d like to know what, if anything, aside from better training for people who own firearms might offer some hope to those who’ve lost loved ones to gun violence.

Further note: Comments must be polite, or they will be deleted.  (You have been warned.)