Bored? Try some Net scares

Bored? Try some Net scares

Aside from a short introduction, the bulk consists of a single, still image of a painting set to ominous music. The “scary” part is the back story. According to the introduction, the painting — a simple depiction of a young girl with myopic blue eyes — was made by a teenage Japanese girl who scanned it to her computer, uploaded it to the Internet, then immediately killed herself.

“They say it is hard for a person to stare into the girl’s eyes for longer than five minutes,” accompanying text reads. “There are reports that some people have taken their own lives after doing so.”

Is it true? Probably not. Is it fun? Decidedly.

The video is part of a growing phenomenon making its way around message boards and e-mail chains called “creepypasta” — bite-sized bits of scariness that have joined the unending list of things-to-do-when-you’re-bored-at-work.

“You’re still secure in your chair, so it’s not quite like having a real brush with death,” said Matt Wallaert, a behavioural psychologist and a founder of Churnless, an Internet strategy agency. “It’s like having your little mini pick-me-up in the middle of the day.”

Most creepypasta manufacture their own authenticity. In that sense, it’s like “The Blair Witch Project,” 2.0: The possibility that they just might be true is usually built in, often in the form of a compelling — if dubious — history.


“The stories are always told by someone you could never actually verify,” Wallaert said. “But that gives it a ring of authenticity.”

Despite their meta-similarities, creepypasta vary widely. One popular example, known as “The Russian Sleep Experiment,” is a short story about Russian prisoners who are forcibly deprived of sleep until they cannibalise each other.

Another, called “Suicide Mouse,” is a nine-minute, Kafkaesque loop of a vintage Mickey Mouse walking down a gloomy street, which slowly degrades into a mix of distorted images, warped music and chilling screams. According to the accompanying legend, the film is authentic, newly discovered Disney footage — the watching of which has led people to kill themselves.

Like other food-based techie terms, creepypasta has its own, geeky etymology (“spam,” for example, comes from an episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus). Mike Rugnetta, who is a researcher for, a project devoted to tracking and documenting bits of viral web ephemera — or memes — explained that creepypasta derives from a term called “copypasta,” which described any piece of text that was endlessly “copy-pasted” across the Internet.

Creepypasta probably arose as a creepy form of copypasta around 2007, Rugnetta said, though it’s only recently become really popular. (According to Google Trends, which quantifies the rate at which a given term is searched, “creepypasta” has skyrocketed in just the last few months — roughly five times what it was at midyear.)

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