Singular Cerebrations: The Taste of Creepypasta
Fortean phenomena were exiled to the realm of urban legend long before the Internet, but things certainly haven't gotten better in this regard since its advent. This miraculous, worldwide web of information was supposed to put the entirety of human knowledge in front of us, but what it's really done is obfuscate the objective reality of many subjects in a way that makes fact almost indiscernible from fiction. I'm sure you've been hearing a lot about fake news recently; well, before we had that muddling up our information stream, there was the internet phenomenon called creepypasta.
In case you're not aware, creepypasta takes its name from the term "copypasta," which itself is internet slang for something one copies and pastes--it's meant to represent those things that are to be shared infinitely across the ether as one person copies and shares them with the next. In the case of creepypasta these shareable stories are entirely horrific, and meant to creep out any who encounter them. To that end, it doesn't matter to the writer of these stories if what they're writing is true, so long as it's scary; and what's scarier than something based on real world beliefs?
And so what you'll often see in these digital tales of dread is subject matter borrowed heavily from nonfictional depictions of actual people's experiences. Which brings me to my point. Few, if any, fortean phenomena have been so influenced by creepypasta as stories of the Black Eyed Kids. There are even some who believe that the whole thing started as a creepypasta, although Brian Bethel--the man most often credited with telling the first modern encounter with Black Eyed Kids--vehemently denies this rumor.
Regardless of the veracity of Bethel's initial account, stories of these creepy kids have spread across the web, while more and more witnesses come forward to say that they, too, have encountered the eerie youths. Meanwhile, the creepypastas have kept pace, and fictional accounts that build off of honest experiences continue to inundate the internet. The result has been to build the legend, and, I think, influence their audience's own beliefs toward this as-of-yet unexplained phenomenon. It fuels rampant speculation in defiance of actual investigation, and if anything it's moving us on a trajectory directly away from the truth.
Unfortunately, if you're waiting for me to arrive at a solution, I don't have one. The best we can do is check our sources, verify our information, and try to navigate the Internet's labyrinth of lies as best we can. The most important take away, for me, is the effect that fiction can have on our actual beliefs. I have no doubt that particularly convincing creepypastas are taken as truth, and work to shape the lens through which eyewitnesses view their experiences. That, too, is something we must take into consideration. It's our job to suss the story out of the witness's narrative, and just because a thousand story threads on the Internet told them that Black Eyed Kids are demons, or ghosts, or alien-human hybrids, doesn't make it so; especially since we can now say with alarming certainty that those beliefs were likely formed with the help of complete fiction.
So, yeah, thanks for making an almost impossible job that much harder, creepypasta.
Yours in Impossibility,