What a strange urban legend was actually true

He comes from the woods - and he will get you ...!


You can meet him practically anywhere, on the street, while walking and even on your own doorstep: the slender man. His preferred area are dense, dark forests, but he is said to have shown himself to a lonely passerby on night streets in the middle of the city.

The reports of its appearance are varied. What they all have in common, however, is that it is a large, arid ("slender", = "slaggy", "thin") almost human figure. At the same time, however, the proportions are so distorted that it is immediately clear to everyone: This is more a "thing" than a person. Its extra-long arms, which look more like tentacle-like outgrowths than real limbs, are particularly noticeable. His face is a whitish-gray, shapeless mass that defies closer inspection. The Slender-Man appears in a dark suit, which can only partially conceal his terrifying appearance.

The Slender-Man is often in the vicinity of playing children who disappear a short time later without a trace. And some adults were never seen again after an unexpected encounter. The fate of the disappeared is uncertain. However, there is one point that everyone agrees who survived an encounter with the Slender Man unscathed: Typical accompanying circumstances of such an encounter are strong feelings of fear and panic. It can therefore be assumed that the creature does not (only) want to celebrate a nice little tea party with its victims and have a neat conversation about the meaning of life.

Urban Legend or Internet Phenomenon?

This story was reported by a 23-year-old computer science student from Hamburg. Allegedly, the still relatively new legend goes back to an Internet photo contest. And this is how Slender-Man could have come about: The competition task was to transform a normal photo into a paranormal, terrifying representation by means of digital manipulation. So one participant photographed a children's playground, tampered with a blurry figure in the background, missed its tentacles instead of arms, invented the corresponding, creepy background story - and the Slender-Man was ready.

In June 2012, the survival horror game was based on this character Slender - The eight pages released. The story takes place - appropriately - in a dark forest and the Slender-Man spreads fear and terror as an opponent. This game is very popular with teenagers and young adults and triggered a real slender boom. Reports of alleged sightings of the Slender Man made the rounds, and photos and video recordings are increasingly circulating on the Internet. Even historical representations from the Middle Ages or ancient Egypt are used as supposed "sources" if they show a skinny creature with excessively long, sometimes too many limbs. Accordingly, the slender man has allegedly been up to mischief all over the world for centuries.

Invented everything! - Or maybe not ...?

Presumably the pictures are all more or less cleverly made forgeries. In any case, my personal impression was that the recordings are hardly more authentic than the repeatedly appearing (fake!) Images of the Loch Ness monster or the aliens from Area 51.

But when I recently drove past a dark wooded area in my car, I suddenly noticed a strange movement out of the corner of my eye: I could have sworn that it was long tentacles sticking out of the bushes and waving at me.

My cowardice won out over curiosity. I didn't follow the tempting tentacle fingers, but instead stepped hard on the accelerator. And while the goosebumps spread on the back of my neck, I asked myself: "What on earth was that ?!"

Answers from psychology - but a residual feeling of goosebumps remains

Perceptual psychology can explain this phenomenon: If the human eye perceives things only indistinctly or in fragments, then the brain complements the unfinished into a complete picture. As a result, you think you're seeing things that aren't actually there.

Oh well. That could be a reasonably logical explanation for my uncanny encounter (and also explain many a supposed ghost sighting). And that's probably how it was. Maybe I just got a little too busy thinking about the story.

Nevertheless, I am secretly a little reassured that, even according to the official legend, not every encounter with the Slender Man has to end badly.

Because otherwise there would be no one who can continue telling the story.