To best answer this question I think we should understand the creepypastas history a bit. For the most part the fame of creepypastas skyrocketed when it was notably covered back in November of 2010 in the New York Times article “Bored at Work? Try Creepypasta, or Web Scares”.
From that article the sensation of the web-based horror fiction genre found its calling among the masses of the everyday reader. It wasn’t the first time it had been out on the internet but it was the first time it had creeped into a mass media article platform which we have to accredit as part of the genres molding.
But what were the baby steps of the Creepypasta?
Time magazine points to a July/2007 thread on 4chan. From there we move onto the origins of the weird name itself. The term ‘Creepypasta’ is a hybrid of the words “creepy” and “copypasta”, (a word used on 4chan in 2006 to describe viral copy-and-pasted text).
With the history briefly summed up I think it is best to define what creepypastas actually are. The mainstream definition would go something like ‘a Creepypasta is a horror centered legend or image that has been copied-and-pasted around the Internet’.
Now that may sound interesting but you have to admit it is kind of dull when you want to bring it to life. And that really does not explain, Why they are so popular?
So out of the multiple possible theories out there, what could possibly explain the creepypasta fame?
I think I can come up with three possible theories that could best answer this question.
Theory 1: The media makes them famous.
We all know the 2009 ‘Slender Man’ creepypasta became super famous in May of 2014 when two 12-year-old girls in Waukesha, Wisconsin allegedly held down and stabbed a 12-yeard-old classmate 19 times as a first step to becoming proxies for the Slender Man.
There were several other alleged violent actions ‘linked’ to the ‘Slender Man’ and different creepypasta such as ‘Laughing Jack’. OK, so we don’t overplay this one with News media hysteria I think it is safe to say a case can be made that the media may indirectly attribute to this genres fame.
Theory 2: We want them to be relatable.
If you are active in social media and have gotten this far into the article, then chances are you probably have come across a posting of the ever so popular question, ‘Have you ever had a Creepypasta-like experience?’
If you thought about answering it, well it was probably because there was that one creepypasta story that you just happen to relate to. Maybe, just maybe, it needed your little tweak to it but it was your experience that others can relate to. Being scared can be fun in a safe environment, like reading a good horror story, it gives you that fright you want without the immediate dangers that come with it. Creepypastas in a way can do the same thing although in a much shorter format with far fewer discoveries to it. They also help us connect to others through common stories and at the same time we recommend to others the lesser known stories to fulfill this scary fun thrill a good scare can bring.
Theory 3: They are the modern day Digital Urban Legends
This is my personal favorite theory. The similarities between creepypastas and urban legends are evident. Unlike Slender Man, creepypastas do not form off modern folklore but they are consisting of fictional stories and are often with chilling elements deeply rooted in local popular culture. Also, Like Urban Legends they are used for entertainment purposes.
The biggest differences is obviously the geography, where creepypastas really are not necessarily tied down to a region, if anything they would be tied to a terrain feature like with the ‘Ted the Caver’ creepypasta. Urban Legends on the other hand can be more local such as ‘Alligators in the Sewers’ of New York City, ‘The Bunny Man Bridge’ of Clifton/ Virginia and ‘The Mothman’ of Point Pleasant/ West Virginia.
I tend to think with the digital age we have adopted a new form of digital fright. What do you think?
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