Trailer Alert: Beware the Slenderman

Fake news is not an issue.

National Enquirer has been around since 1926 serving its loyal readership stories on Elvis sightings, earth’s women serving as Eves by having alien babies, dating impending apocalypses and as times and tastes evolved standard celebrity scandals. All useful for prompting X-Files plot points; not overly impactful in real life.

(There’s also a handful of pinch your nose under your glasses moments from fools who believed newspapers like The Onion was real news or shows like Da Ali G, The Daily Show are journalism. It happens; not everybody is bright. Based on FBI complaints many people are still responding to the Nigerian Prince email spam.)

Battling fake news is like tweeting #OscarSoWhite. Ineffective at addressing any of the genuine issues at the heart of the matter but great at making you feel good personally and of course in front of others.

Fake news is not an issue; it’s a convenient distraction from the hard problems that seem daunting. Those problems with difficult solutions are what we’ll typically ignore in favour of quick fixes which thankfully fakes news easily lends itself. A couple of filters and some algorithms can stem the tide of fake news; go nuts. We’ve seen spam reduced with similar measures and online advertising increased with similar measures.

(We’ll continually encounter online targeting advertising that address your specific traits (Facebook knows you better than you know yourself!); curbing fake news isn’t as difficult as putting a man on the moon or say rebuilding critically injured astronaut Steve Austin into a $6 million bionic weapon. Not adjusted for inflation.)

Fake new is not an issue. Blaming fake news for Trump is as silly as blaming music (or video games etc.) for Columbine. (I actually haven’t come across a “violence on tv prompts murder” study for a while…have they stopped doing those? When was the last time you saw one of those Seduction of the Innocent studies?)

The genuine issues…the hard and deep work we have in front of us is includes tearing down an obsolete school system: learning is great; education sucks. One key part in the critical thinking development of human beings. I’m not proposing a radical idea…there’s enough books, documentaries, teachers etc. to indicate this should be done. Thing is this can’t be done overnight so every day we delay doing this we’re losing time and more importantly…kids. “Won’t somebody please think of the children?!”

Another genuine issue is effectively addressing mental illness…good luck with that one: that thorny quandary requires funding, invested health care radicals, a nuanced sensitivity typically absent from social media discourse and in many scenarios a removal of stigma and shame the flourishing fruits of bygone eras.

But sure…let’s focus on fake news: after all it’s easier and culprits are comforting. (It’s frightening when an online majority reaches consensus. As a rule of thumb if you find yourself using phrases like “on the wrong side of history” or worse in one of those with us or against consensus gangs it’s akin to an incensed Springfield mob…hilariously the way many The Simpsons episodes end: violently attacking objectors and the perceived guilty party. Yet another notable signifier that show is an eerily prescient mirror of our modern society.)

All of the predicaments I’ve just raised came to a head on May 31, 2014 when two 12-year-old girls in Wisconsin attempted to sacrifice their friend as a peace offering to…Slender Man.

Slender Man an online originated urban legend is granted…more frightening than a forwarded chain email from your cute grandmother. Used to be the way to keep safe and survive the night was make sure your legs and arms don’t dangle over the edges of your bed…but what do you do when the boogeyman can roam outside your bedroom?

Sadly rather than use flashlights under their chins to tell creepy Slender Man stories these 2 girls took legitimate action and stabbed their “friend” 19 times. Thankfully the child survived. (What’s super disturbing aside from the actual incidence is…the girls planned this for months! This wasn’t a random sleepover gone awry.)

So…are the girls mentally ill? Are they stupid? Both? Maybe Slender Man is real and they have a legit case? I can’t wait to check out this documentary…clearly there are real issues worth raising. Solutions won’t be easy…especially not as easy we’d like.

HBO’s newest doc Beware the Slenderman screens on January 23 at 10pm…check out the trailer: