A Brief History of Creepypasta
Happy Halloween! (Or almost Halloween. Or not Halloween at all, depending on when you're reading this.)
You know what? Never mind. I'll just get to the point now.
One of my favorite things to listen to when I need something on in the background while I work is creepypasta narrations on YouTube. There are plenty of narrators to choose from and tons of stories to listen to.
Since I enjoy creepypastas so much, a question that I've been interested in finding the answer to lately is where exactly the format came from. I got interested in creepypastas a bit late in the game, so I missed out on the origin story.
What follows is what I was able to piece together from my research online.
What is Creepypasta?
For those who are completely unaware of what a creepypasta is, it has its origins in the term "copypasta," which, as CreepsMcPasta points out in his video "A History of Creepypasta," should actually be pronounced copy-paste-a, as it comes from the computer command copy and paste. And so it follows that creepypasta should be pronounced in a similar way, but that fact is just ignored now, as most people have decided to just pronounce it the way it looks at this point.
Creepypastas are scary stories or stories in the horror genre that are passed around forums or other sites across the Internet. This is where the term copypasta comes from, and why creepypasta borrows from this term, because the text was originally meant to be copied and pasted all over different websites.
Creepypastas are mostly in text form, but sometimes they also come with supplemental information, like pictures, audio, or video, usually with disturbing content. This is the case with the well-known creepypastas "suicidemouse.avi" and "Squidward's Suicide."
It's hard to actually pinpoint who began the idea of creepypastas and where they first originated, because so many stories, at least in the beginning, were posted anonymously. This makes sense, as the idea of copypastas and creepypastas was to copy and paste them across different places online, but it makes it incredibly difficult to trace the origins of the genre.
A lot of older creepypastas appear to have originated from the /x/ board on 4chan, which is a board dedicated to the paranormal. It's also possible that a 2001 creepypasta known as "Ted the Caver" was one of, if not the original creepypasta, but this isn't known for sure.
Older creepypastas - the "original" ones - had to have some realism and believability to the story, or else people wouldn't spread it around. In order to do this, some creepypastas would be based around existing urban legends, like Polybius and the Bunny Man.
In the days before there were dedicated creepypasta websites, a lot of the stories were more believable simply because there was no origin to trace it back to in order to prove it was fictional. There was also usually no author credited, which added to the realism. Randomly finding these anonymous stories made them seem more real, as there was no telling who the author was or what had happened to them after the events of the story.
These older creepypastas also followed a set of formulas. These included anecdotes, rituals (like The Holder series), and lost episodes (like "Dead Bart" and "Squidward's Suicide").
Evolution of the Community
Eventually, dedicated creepypasta websites did come about, with creepypasta.com launching in 2008, which brought about a massive change in the creepypasta community. Now there was an archive for these stories, and continuity became part of them. Fanworks and spinoffs came about, with different authors borrowing characters from other creepypastas in order to use them in their own stories. This was prominent with characters like Jeff the Killer, the Rake, and most especially Slenderman. This also brought about the idea of "pasta monsters," which is basically exactly what it sounds like. The SCP Foundation is a creative writing project made up entirely of pasta monsters, for example.
Most interestingly, copy and pasting a creepypasta is now generally frowned upon in the community, as it's essentially become seen as stealing. A lot of authors are now trying to make their names known through the creepypastas they write, rather than trying to make people believe the stories are true through randomly spreading them around online. (As an example, the long, multi-part "Penpal" series of creepypastas was eventually edited and self-published as a novel by the author.) Creepypastas have now become just short stories or flash fiction with horror elements, due to the meaning of the genre continually changing and evolving with the community.
According to the Time Magazine article "Behind Creepypasta, the Internet Community That Allegedly Spread a Killer Meme," the creepypasta genre's audience peaked in 2010 when The New York Times covered the trend.
Creepypastas also gained mainstream attention with articles such as the one mentioned above in 2014 after the "Slenderman stabbing," when a 12-year-old girl was stabbed by her friends, who claimed to have done it in order to appease Slenderman and become his proxies, people who carry out Slenderman's will as his servants.
The Current State of Creepypasta
Even though things like the Slenderman stabbing have perhaps caused the average person to view creepypastas in a negative light, the creepypasta community is still going strong. CreepsMcPasta points out in his video that creepypastas have outgrown being just stories, with plenty of fanworks extending beyond creepypastas themselves.
Many YouTubers, including myself and some of my personal favorites, like CreepsMcPasta and Doctor Horror, do dramatic readings of creepypastas. Many of those people build their entire channels around narrating them.
In the case of gaming creepypastas, fans will create games to go along with them, such as in the case of "Sonic.exe" and "The Theater."
One creepypasta in particular, "Candle Cove" by Kris Straub, has received much attention beyond the story itself. In addition to fans creating an entire wiki around the fictional show described in the story, Syfy developed and is currently airing a series based on the creepypasta called "Channel Zero."
So I hope this article has inspired some people to check out creepypasta this Halloween. If you find the right one, it's a great way to get your horror fix. I'll end this by leaving two of my personal favorites as narrated by one of my favorite YouTubers.
Enjoy some quality horror stories, and have a happy Halloween!