Scary stories have been around for centuries, fueling the nightmares of children and making sure they behave well. When observing the leap that literature has made from print to digital and electronic means, it is only normal to assume that these types of stories would do the same. It is not until fairly recently though that horror stories have leapt from print and oral tradition to electronic means. Not only this, but they have done so in a very particular way. These stories are now referred to as Creepypastas. According to the Creepypasta Wiki, creepypastas are defined as “internet horror stories, passed around on forums and other sites to disturb and frighten readers”. The name used to address creepypastas comes from the popular internet term “copypasta” which is used to describe text that is copied and pasted repeatedly on internet forums or even chain emails. This term has since been modified into Creepypasta to define these copy pasted horror stories that circle the internet.
Most Creepypastas are supplemented with audio, images, and sometimes even video to add veracity to the subject, but not all are. Some Creepypastas rely exclusively on the text to impart fear upon its readers. These stories used to follow a set path in the beginning, following one of three general storylines. These were anecdotes, rituals and lost episodes. In anecdotes the author was the active participant in the story, meaning that they had been tormented by the entity in question.
Ritual Creepypastas were usually presented as instructions to games or rituals that after being followed could either show the reader something amazing or horrifying. In lost episode Creepypastas, the narrator of the story writes about a never before seen or unreleased episode of a TV show that shows the characters acting in an odd manner. These types of creepypastas often use children’s TV shows and cartoons as the subject of the story.
In more recent years some of these storylines have fallen out of style and writers have opted for more creative approaches to writing Creepypastas. As in all aspects of life, popularity always comes into play. Creepypastas are no exception. There are various creepypastas that have become popular and highly recognisable such as Slenderman, Jeff the Killer, Smile.jpg, Lavender Town Syndrome, and Squidward’s Suicide. These Creepypastas are the most well known of the bunch and some have even inspired video games, sequels and fan made videos.
Creepypasta seems to evolve in its complexity as years go on, and this is part of what makes its aesthetic so hard to pin down. What makes a creepypasta good, is not always its content, but its characters. There are many cases where the creepypasta in question is lackluster, but it enjoys incredible popularity (see Jeff the Killer). Since creepypasta has come to be in the digital age, much of what makes them popular is how many shares, likes, or upvotes it gets. Aesthetics, especially in the creepypasta community, are subjective, and one could argue that in the end, it’s all art.