Everyone Go Crazy: Prepare To Blame The Internet For Murder-Inducing Ghost Stories

from the on-the-internet dept

I'm calling it here, right now. With all we've seen in the silly realm of moral panics on anything adults find new, be it tabletop role-playing games, video games, and, you know, chess, the horrifying story that is coming out of Wisconsin is going to end up in some media outlet somewhere decrying ghost stories on the internet and blaming them for this tragedy.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, two 12-year-old girls in Waukesha, Wisconsin, nearly stabbed their friend to death and left her in the woods, claiming that they wanted to become proxies for the Slender Man. If you aren't familiar with the story behind the Slender Man, "he" is the creation of Eric Knudsen, who edited some photographs as part of a submission to the Something Awful forums. In other words, he just made the whole thing up, which was the entire point. The whole point of the forum was to do photo-editing to create the appearance of something supernatural, and Knudson added to his edits some text that created a minor back story to the Slender Man. From there, the whole thing went viral and the legend has metastasized, in a manner of speaking. That brings us back to Waukesha and the original article about the attempted murder.

Prosecutors say two 12-year-old southeastern Wisconsin girls stabbed their 12-year-old friend nearly to death in the woods to please a mythological creature they learned about online. One of the girls told a detective they were trying to become "proxies" of Slender Man, a mythological demon-like character they learned about on creepypasta.wikia.com, a website about horror stories and legends. They planned to run away to the demon's forest mansion after the slaying, the complaint said.
You can already feel it, can't you? That incredible dismay in your being because you know that somehow this whole story is going to get spun into something on the internet causing two, otherwise-sweet twelve-year-olds to become knife-wielding maniacs? Yeah, that's probably going to happen. Here's the thing: it had better happen, because if the same media that is going to blurt out "Video games!" or "Violent movies!" any time we're faced with a tragedy, doesn't simply blame the medium rather than the perpetrators then they just aren't being consistent.

Me? Well, I'd rather build a reputation on being able to look at a couple of clearly disturbed young girls and calling them what they are rather than consistently looking for an out in the form of a media scapegoat, but then again I'm not the cable news networks. When little girls are talking about seeing myths in their dreams, being told by myths to do things, or myths threatening their families, the problem isn't with the myth or the medium on which the myth was delivered.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 1:24pm

    if they were playing Call of Duty as well, it's a definite then!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 1:29pm

    Violence and mental illness predate New Media? NO WAY!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 1:38pm

    How long before we learn...

    You can't legislate against crazy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 1:39pm

    Maybe...

    Maybe Eric Knudsen played call of duty while coming up with the idea of slenderman? There has to be a connection to video games, somewhere... The balance of the universe depends on it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    The Incoherent One (profile), Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 1:43pm

    If this were true

    Then we should be able to blame and ban the bible for a wide variety of things.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 1:53pm

    God, i feel old. I remember the good ol days when it was comic books, or just books, then movies, then video games, now its the internet. Although i see the video game horror is still not gone. Virtual Reality will be the next to blame.
    But officer it looked so real, i couldn't tell the differance between the zombi and my ex.

     

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  7.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 1:54pm

    Re: Maybe...

    There's a video game called "Slender: The Eight Pages" where you run from the Slender Man and attempt to collect the eight pages. No idea what happens when you do, I've never seen anyone get that far. But there you go, a direct link to video games.

    Plus, there's a multiplayer version where you can play as the Slender Man. That's got to be something.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 2:20pm

    Re: Re: Maybe...

    "Plus, there's a multiplayer version where you can play as the Slender Man. That's got to be something."

    You mean other than AWESOME!?!?!?

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 2:20pm

    "the problem isn't with the myth or the medium on which the myth was delivered."

    ...that sounds like witch talk to me.

    Fyi - If you do your research, I think you'll find the legal precedent for spectral evidence has been well established for over three centuries.

     

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  10.  
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    ltlw0lf (profile), Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 2:24pm

    Re: Re: Maybe...

    Plus, there's a multiplayer version where you can play as the Slender Man. That's got to be something.

    There is even an MMO with Slender Men. Well, Enderman. Been playing it for quite some time and I am quite disappointed at how many of the days I could be doing something productive are instead spent in Minecraft.

     

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  11.  
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    Coogan (profile), Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 2:32pm

    I heard if you stand in front of your bathroom mirror, turn the lights out, and say "James Clapper" three times, he'll appear in the mirror and accuse you of supporting the enemies of America.

     

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  12.  
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    KM, Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 2:32pm

    Folie a deux

    Reminds me of the 1954 Parker-Hulme case in NZ that was the subject of Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 2:34pm

    Re:

    This comment is the highlight of my day, I'm making it First Word, because I can.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    mimeflu, Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 2:36pm

    worse

    The state of Wisconsin released these 12 year olds names and will try them as adults.

     

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  15.  
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    Internet Zen Master (profile), Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 2:37pm

    It's not just Slenderman they're attacking

    The Fox News article that's generated the most buzz also targeted the whole Creepypasta phenomenon in general, specifically calling out creepypasta.com [where the ringleader of this insanity allegedly read the pasta's about Slenderman]. The site (and the Creepypasta wiki) are almost ready to collapse under the massive surge of traffic directed at the site.

    Speaking as an active writer/artist of the Creepypasta community (least on dA), the general reaction to this incident has been a mixture of "OH COME ON! YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!", "We need to try and deflect the negative press asap, or else we'll all end up demonized as evil child-manipulating cultists by the media", and "We need to make a collective gesture of goodwill to the girl who was stabbed."

    *sigh*

    This is why we can't have nice things.

     

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  16.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 2:41pm

    Re: worse

    Oh yes, because they're clearly mentally stable and capable of understanding their actions. /s

    Can't have a witch hunt without burning a few 'witches' I suppose.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    KM, Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 2:47pm

    Re: worse

    Confessions might end up tossed, not familiar the WI statues re. minors.

    from the Guardian: Police say the two girls waived their Miranda rights and gave statements after they were arrested. Asked by the Guardian why the 12-year-olds had been interrogated without a lawyer present, Captain Ron Oremus of the Waukesha police department said: "If they didn't request we're not providing it That might happen at a different point when they're charged, that did not happen on our end."

    Oremus said the girls' parents were called, and that when they arrived at the station they were informed that their children had waived their Miranda rights, but he did not know when in the interrogation process the parents were told.

     

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  18.  
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    Internet Zen Master (profile), Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 2:49pm

    Re: Re: Maybe...

    They actually made a 'sequel' to that game called Slender: The Arrival [sequel in quotes because The Eight Pages is pretty much the layout for one of the levels in the game].

    There's a few other Slenderman based games floating around out there on the web, but 'Eight Pages' and 'The Arrival' are the two big ones as far as I know.

    As for what happens when you collect all 8 pages, well, I won't spoil it for everyone. You'll just have to play the game yourselves...

     

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  19.  
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    Matthew Cline (profile), Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 3:00pm

    The difference with Slender Man

    Now I'm not trying to lay the blame for this at the feet of the Slender Man phenomenon, but there is a big difference between things like video games and Dungeons & Dragons vs Slender Man, which is that the former are games to be played, while with Slender Man a lot of it is non-game content presented as if it was real. If you're playing a game then what you're playing can't be real, as you're in the middle of playing it, so you'd have to be really delusional to think it's real. But with Slender blogs and vlogs, since they're not something being played, a person doesn't need to be nearly as delusional to think they're real.

    Of course, if these two girls actually believe what they're saying, in addition to being delusional, they're sociopathic enough to not only be willing to commit human sacrifice, but they also want to be the servants of an eldritch abomination. With a pair of delusional sociopaths like that, it would only have been a matter of time before they ended up doing something horrible.

     

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  20.  
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    avideogameplayer, Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 3:00pm

    Re: Re: worse

    This case might get tossed out...

    Last I checked, minors cannot waive their rights without a parent and or guardian...

    And anything they say can be tossed...

     

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  21.  
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    BONES (profile), Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 3:01pm

    So it begins... Already on DrudgeReport

    That didn't take long... Story is already on DrudgeReport linking to a story on LA Time...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Zonker, Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 3:01pm

    Re:

    That's nothing. When I summoned him this way, Clapper instructed me to strap firecrackers to a model airplane and launch them at my neighbor because he says they're terrorists. I'm expected to run to his mansion and post a "Mission Accomplished" banner over his front door when I'm done. Then, and only then, will I allowed to join the ranks of the Illuminati.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous, Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 3:03pm

    But kids are so innocent, aren't they? Bull****.

     

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  24.  
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    Glen, Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 3:03pm

    Re:

    10,000 internets to you sir!!!

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 3:06pm

    Chess link is wrong. It should point to this: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090628/1613445386.shtml

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
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    Bergman (profile), Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 3:14pm

    We used to teach kids critical thinking in schools

    There's a natural consequence to not teaching it anymore.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    martyburns (profile), Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 3:26pm

    Re: How long before we learn...

    Maybe Google could remove all the crazy from the internet.

    The right to not have to read crazy person rants.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    martyburns (profile), Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 3:26pm

    Re: How long before we learn...

    Maybe Google could remove all the crazy from the internet.

    The right to not have to read crazy person rants.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 3:27pm

    Re: The difference with Slender Man

    "But with Slender blogs and vlogs, since they're not something being played, a person doesn't need to be nearly as delusional to think they're real."

    I beg to differ. First, the whole slenderman thing is bogus on its face. But, more importantly, if someone really believes the Slenderman stuff so much that they will base extreme life (and life-threatening) decisions on it, one would think that they've at least done a bit of googling on it. Most people who believe crazy things do spend quite a bit of time and energy reading up on those things, after all.

    A short time with Google will rapidly lead you to the source of Slenderman. To continue to believe it's real after that is highly delusional.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 4:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Maybe...

    You consider Mincraft an MMO? o.0

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Christopher Koulouris, Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 5:46pm

    Was the attempted murder simply all about proving to oneself that horror villains and their pedestal fantasy lives still existed and that by proxy one could elevate themselves to a memorable status (as the two girls have done but for all the wrong reasons) or a conceited plan just to create murder outright, to find out what being a villain was really all about? And if so why their friend? Or are we to really believe that some individuals have come to internalize such fantasy stories as real?

    http://scallywagandvagabond.com/2014/06/slender-man-myth-leads-to-12-year-olds-stabbing-classma te-to-prove-its-real/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Whatever, Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 6:24pm

    Re: Re: The difference with Slender Man

    A short time with Google will rapidly lead you to the source of Slenderman. To continue to believe it's real after that is highly delusional.

    ... or perhaps young enough to be influenced by the story and not the reality. Not all prepubescent children have a full developed reasoning system, but most of them seem to have a very good internet connection.

     

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  33.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 7:03pm

    It is human nature to want to assign blame for an event.
    It has become a sport in America to find a way that your own actions are no longer your fault.

    The girls made a decision to do something, and then we accept them saying they were made to do it by something they read.

    In Detroit, a teacher ended up fired because 2 students got into a fight and when assistance was not coming to help, she got involved hitting the students with a handle to break it up. They interviewed one of the students involved who felt he had done nothing wrong, despite having decided to solve his issue with his fists. The students mother sat there and supported the delusion that he had nothing to feel sorry about in the situation. He decided to escalate a situation to where violence happened, but found a way to abdicate his responsibility and adults supported this move.

    Let's blame the internet is the easy answer to the problem.
    Don't look into the family.
    Don't look into medical issues.
    Don't wonder how they could have planned this for months with no one being the wiser.
    Don't wonder about the lack of supervision.
    Just blame the internet, the internet is responsible.
    The internet makes people do things.
    The internet made you help that prince move his millions.
    The internet made you cheat on your partner.
    The internet made you fat.
    The internet made you...
    because we are willing to blame an inanimate object rather than admit personal responsibility.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 7:06pm

    My wife immediately asked me to block creepypasta as soon as she saw an article about this, before our kids could run across it and go crazy murdering each other. It was easier to just cave and block it at the router than to try to discuss that there was something wrong with these kids, not the website.

    And yes, I intentionally signed out before posting here, because I'm afraid of her.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 7:21pm

    Re:

    If your wife really thinks your children are that incapable of telling fact from fiction, what is real from what is not, then I'd say she has an absolutely abysmal estimation of their intelligence, doesn't believe that the two of you are good enough parents to raise children properly to be able to spot the difference, or is more than a little 'off' upstairs herself.

    Judging by the last line, I'm guessing it's most likely the last one.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
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    Coogan (profile), Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 8:57pm

    Re: Re:

    Thanks! I'm donating it all to the EFF on behalf of the Office of the US Trade Representative.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
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    Atkray (profile), Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 9:58pm

    Re: Re:

    One of us has a broken sarcasm detector. Mine hit the peg

    :/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 10:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: worse

    I'm not sure if that's true, but even if it was, that won't get the case tossed, and it's ridiculous to say it would be. It's not like the only thing they have is the confession... the girl who got stabbed survived and told police who stabbed her. But if somehow that's not enough, I'm sure there's plenty of physical evidence. These are 12 year olds, not criminal masterminds, and stabbing is messy.

    The best they can hope for is to get the case removed to juvenile court. They're certainly not going to walk away from this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
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    Mega1987 (profile), Jun 4th, 2014 @ 2:21am

    another Hunt

    2 12 yrs old girls nearly killed their friend for something that's not even real.

    everyone goes WTH!?

    here's comes the police... With some lobbyist and lawmakers right behind them.

    after investigation, they found the source of the problem: A website in the Internet.

    THEN, media exaggerated the story to the point that Eric Knudsen was painted as a devil of the crime of the two girls.

    The Police(those who threw common sense into the bin, again.) goes into a manhunt for Eric Knudsen for his creation.

    Then the lobbyist and the Lawmakers goes to court, Roaring like a freaking T-rex about restricting websites about supernatural and stuff.

    And here comes ANOTHER bill that will censor, block and restrict certain websites.

    Some of the Lawmakers sees it as an opportunity to slip some SOPA/PIPA/etc fragments, to make it even more broken to the point that posting something that falls under certain criteria will be counted as a crime, NO QUESTION asked.

    And the Netizens goes for another fight against a bill that will mess up the free speech in the net...


    AND yet NO ONE even asked the parents of the two girls if the girls were doing something out of the ordinary or even asked if what they saw in the Internet is even real or not.

    Nor the Girls even research even further about the topic they found in the Internet.

    Jeez... What's next? World war 3 started by China And Korea that will end in Mutual Assured Destruction just because they didn't even take any dispute to the diplomacy side and just go for the badass military side?

     

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  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2014 @ 2:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: worse

    They don't deserve to walk away from this.

    They deserve a harsh punishment; say life in prison.

    The fact they are 12-year-olds is irrelevant.

    They spent months planning this, they knew what they were doing.

    They are cold-blooded murderers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
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    The Wanderer (profile), Jun 4th, 2014 @ 4:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Maybe...

    Sure. The only potentially questionable part is the "massively", and there are tens if not hundreds of thousands of people playing it online at any given time; there generally aren't more than a couple of hundred per server, and most servers are far fewer than that, but that by itself doesn't seem enough to disqualify the term as far as I can tell.

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2014 @ 6:55am

    I already see technology from a sort of... mythic perspective. This really drives that home. Cave paintings, carved idols, whatever. This is the same thing, every bit as significant. The intentions we put into this space matter.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
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    Coogan (profile), Jun 4th, 2014 @ 6:58am

    Re: Re:

    NSA monitoring kinda put the whole perspective on the "We've traced the call and it's coming from INSIDE YOUR HOUSE!" urban legend, doesn't it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    KM, Jun 4th, 2014 @ 8:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: worse

    It's possible they're cold-blooded murderers, but I think given their confessions it's more likely they are very disturbed children in desperate need of mental health services in separate environments. They won't walk away from this, nor should they, but I'm not ready to lock them up and throw away the key just yet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
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    art guerrilla (profile), Jun 4th, 2014 @ 8:48am

    Re: The difference with Slender Man

    so-o-o-o, you think 'the ring', 'blair witch project', etc were documentaries, too ? ? ?

    only so much you can do to protect people from their own stupidity, and usually, that is too much...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jun 4th, 2014 @ 11:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: worse

    You know why children/teenagers are, and should be, treated differently from adults in the eyes of the law? Because they generally aren't as capable of understanding the consequences of their actions as adults are.

    The concept of 'death' in particular is not an easy thing to come to grips with, whether it's a kid and their inability to understand that death doesn't just mean 'you might not see them again', or teenagers with their immortality complex and their 'living in the now' view of the world.

    Now, should the girls in this case get away with it? Absolutely not. However, the proper response should be putting them under psychiatric care/examination, along with the parents, to find out just what led them to a) believe that something fictional was real, b) commit such a violent act because of it, and c) hopefully treat that problem, not just lock them up and throw away the key based upon a purely emotional drive for retribution/vengeance.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
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    Mikael (profile), Jun 4th, 2014 @ 2:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Maybe...

    With the right mods, yes. There are RPG mods for Minecraft.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
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    Mikael (profile), Jun 4th, 2014 @ 2:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Maybe...

    I wish there was an edit button here...

    I realize that not all MMOs are RPGs, but they are the most abundant. I guess Minecraft's multiplayer mode can be a MMO if you want it to be given the sheer number of players on some of the biggest MP servers out there right now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 5th, 2014 @ 8:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Maybe...

    Likewise, not all RPGs are MMOs.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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