More on the Slenderman stabbing

Un-masking Slenderman: Talking to your children about the Wisconsin stabbing. Christian Science Monitor, June 3, 2014.

More on the Slenderman stabbing. A thoughtful article about the power of fearful stories as old as the Sandman to scare kids and hold them in fear. Yet like so many of the problems facing kids in their encounters with the media, the ubiquity of the media itself is a major part of the problem, rendering my concerns far greater than what they would be if a bunch of kids were simply sitting around a campfire spinning scary yarns.

What makes my concerns so great is the fact that these stories are luringly told in a manner that blurs the boundary between fantasy and reality. In my dealings with kids who speak of the creepypasta website, for instance, I find that the postings there intentionally work to blur the boundary here so that kids are meant to be truly confused about the question of fantasy versus reality.

Also, parental figures are often not aware of the child’s inner dilemma at all as the child is quietly sitting in front of a screen and in a solitary manner drinking in the lurid images and terrifying ideas dancing before them.

The Blair Witch Project is a great starting place in any discussion since the film is framed as reality, that is actual film footage captured by an unsophisticated wielder of a camera. Fantasy and reality blurring. Fear mounting to be sure, but also confusion about how authentically to view the gruesome images. I am often surprised and troubled at how hard kids need to think in order to discern what is only the fantastical imagination of a film or video maker and what is a terrifying world truly forcing itself on them.