Before we try to answer this question, it is worth noting that over the years the invention of the Internet has been accused of a great deal of harm – in addition to contributing to the breakdown of interpersonal relationships, causing postural defects and increasing the risk of depression, some skeptics also blame him for the unpleasant state of his readership. It turns out, however, that literature evolves as quickly as the technology around us and can adapt perfectly to new conditions, as exemplified by the creepypasta species.
The word “creepypasta” was disseminated by the 4Chan community. It comes from the words “creepy” and “copypasta” and simply means a scary story that is spread over the internet. We come across creepypasts often by accident. With each line read, the pile of clothes on the chair begins to look less and less familiar, the mirrors begin to appear to us as a deadly danger, and yet we can’t help but start the next one. The creepypasta’s contribution to promoting literature, however, goes beyond tempting blood-curdling content. It is worth mentioning that this genre, like no other, encourages you to grab the mouse and start the process of creating your own work – the short form and anonymity tempt young artists with stress-free debuts in virtual reality,
The off-line beginnings of the internet phenomenon
While the invention of the Internet has undoubtedly allowed the creepypasta genre to flourish, it should be emphasized that the source of the horror emanating from these short stories must be looked for much deeper. Researchers of the creepypasta genre emphasize the connection between the awesomeness and oral tradition – it is a true cultural treasury from which successive generations of creators draw. What’s in this treasury? Considered a classic of the horror novel genre, HP Lovecraft indicated that stories passed from mouth to mouth can easily be traced back to ancient myths, even if time changed their form. We are dealing with such a transformation in the 21st century, when listening to classic ghost stories by the fire has been replaced by the security of staring at the phone screen.
While the father of the creepypasta genre is the oral tradition, and then the literary and film horror film, its mother is copypasta, who celebrated its triumphs in the 1990s, and is simply referred to in Polish as “copy paper”. The reasons for its popularity should be seen in the way it affects the emotions of recipients – let the first stone be thrown by those who have never passed the chain threatening to visit Bloody Mary, numerological investigations related to John Paul II or discounts on the latest Ray Bans model. The main difference between copypasta and creepypasta is: while the former may prey on our desire to help or protect ourselves, which makes us pasting copyright declarations on Facebook without any reflection,
How is creepypasta scare?
“I came home and found my wife rocking our son in the cradle. Until now, I don’t know what was scarier – the fact that they were dead or that someone broke into us to set them up here “
“I was at the hairdresser today. When the hairdresser left for a moment, I started looking at myself in the mirror. At one point my reflection blinked “
“You are sitting with your girlfriend at your place when she suddenly asks why you are breathing so loudly. And even though you are glad to have the girl with you, you are still terrified of that loud gasp because you can hear it too. It is not you”
The examples of microcreepypasts presented above show that the heroes of these stories are figures well known to us from everyday life, and the circumstances in which they find themselves do not bear the slightest signs of weirdness. A visit to the hairdresser, an afternoon spent with the family or a date are situations that each of us has experienced many times. However, the feeling of taming quickly disappears after reading the following sentences. The deceptive aura of normality is quickly replaced with a sense of contamination of reality – it is no longer so safe, instead it becomes a boggy ground ready to drag us into its depths if we lose our vigilance even for a moment.
As it turns out, the change of medium did not change the content: although the character of the storyteller is hidden in the meanders of networks and fictional identities, and the cool light of the smartphone has replaced the heat of the crackling fire, the most common themes of the story are invariably transformed into various ways of murder, suicide, ghosts or living dead bodies. In addition to the themes that creepypasta shares with literary and film horror, there are also some interesting clues more characteristic of itself: here we are talking about the theme of lost episodes, cursed computer games and haunted childhood toys.
However, there are many more features of creepypasta that set it apart from classic horror stories. The former unexpectedly emerge from the depths of the Internet and are usually anonymous, which only adds to their mystery and, in the eyes of some readers, also to credibility. Creepypasts do not always have amazing literary value, which is often a deliberate attempt by their creators – colloquialisms, simple syntax, repetitions or typographical and stylistic errors are part of the process facilitating the reader’s identification with the hero, although sometimes they simply result from the fact that a large part of them are clunky translations of their English counterparts. Despite these differences between creepypasta and horror, the right balance between the realistic plots and the formidable fantasy remains the key to success.
When fiction comes into reality
One of the first creepypasts to gain popularity is Ted the Caver from 2001 , but the genre is most often associated with the character of Slenderman. Its appearance almost a decade later should be associated with the photos sent in connection with the competition organized by the SomethingAwful website. The character of Slenderman quickly began to live a life of its own – the story of a slim man dressed in a suit, often depicted with unnaturally long limbs and tentacles, became the focus of creepypast authors, cosplayers and even directors and game developers in the blink of an eye, and was hailed as the first Internet myth.
Payton Leutner from Wisconsin learned that the line between fiction and reality can be extremely fluid. Her friends, Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, lured her into the woods and offered to play hide and seek, during which they stabbed her nineteen with a knife. Leutner was supposed to be a sacrifice to the Slederman that Geyser and Weier discovered on the Creepypasta Wiki page. Both teenagers believed that in this way they would prove the existence of the mysterious figure and protect their families from harm. They were also convinced that Slenderman would not remain indebted to them and could become his confidants . Their dream, however, turned out to be impossible to fulfill; both teens were detained on their way to National Forest Nicolet (where they claimed Slenderman lives) and taken to the nearest police station, and the creators behind Something Awful had to issue a bizarre statement intended to explain to some forum users that Slenderman’s character is not real.
Payton Leutner managed to survive the attack, but not all of the creepypast stories in the background have a happy ending, as exemplified by the story of Katelyn. A teenager from Georgia ran the blog Diary of a Broken Doll, where she used the pseudonym Dolly. The content of the blog itself was quite ghastly, because in addition to descriptions of depressive episodes that the teenager had to deal with, it also contained photos of her self-mutilation. Are you wondering what this story has to do with the creepypast theme? On December 22, 2016, Dolly posted a desperate appeal to Internet users. In the post, he asks them for help in finding Ben – perhaps it would not be surprising if not for the fact that Dolly writes about Ben Topielec, the hero of countless creepypasts and fanarts who functions in the English part of the network as Ben Drowned.
It’s hard to say today whether the fictional creepypast hero actually stole her heart, or whether she was looking for someone who only used the nickname – but the fact remains that Katelyn took her own life by streaming both preparations and suicide on Facebook. The video quickly found its way to Live.me, from where it spread to other sites. While the police are asking people who obtained the video not to share it again, Katelyn’s suicide stream has been watched by millions and regularly emerges from the abyss of the Internet, making her story, though written through life, dangerous in itself. resembles the plot of a creepypasta.
Cultural content is a bit like an iceberg – what we see above the waterline, the content glowing triumphs at the moment, is only a small part of it. There is a pop-culture dumpster beneath the surface – objects, ideas, customs, music and literature begin to live their own lives, often waiting to be rediscovered. Only content defined by the magic adjective “cult” has a chance to avoid being forgotten. It should be emphasized, however, that a trip to the pop-culture dumpster is not a one-way trip. The cultural circuit is not a hermetic system – for it to work efficiently, external impulses are needed. This exterior is a broad category of audience that interacts with the content.
We are used to reaching for the cultural treats we are interested in – going to the cinema, going to a bookstore or buying a new album. Each of us has our own tame rituals. The perverse pleasure of reading creepypastas, necessarily in solitude and in the middle of the night, seems to stem precisely from the fact that the line between fiction and fact is so thin that it’s hard to decide where one ends and the other begins. Reaching for this genre, we become a participant in a game that requires us to skillfully balance between these two wholes – in the end, we never know whether we are reaching for the creepypasts, or whether they are reaching for us.
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