What type of pasta!?
If you’re relatively internet savvy, you might currently be nodding and stroking your chin wisely, saying, Ah yes, creepypasta!
The rest of you though, might well be asking yourselves, well, What type of pasta!?
Well, perhaps curiously enough, creepypasta is not actually pasta at all. And I don’t mean that in the sense that an Italian will rightfully dismiss spaghetti with a creamy sauce and peas as not actually spaghetti carbonara.
The obvious question I’ve yet to answer, of course, is, why are they called creepypastas!? The creepy part is obvious enough, but pasta?
Funnily enough, the answer is logical. In a way.
Before creepypastas, there were copypastas. This was a term for viral copy-and-pasted text (copypasta = copy and paste, see?) Once people started to share scary stories in the same way, it was inevitable that someone would come up with creepypasta. We do love a portmanteau, after all.
The thing about the word is, that on the rare occasions I come across the word, I find it instinctively a bit annoying. I think that initial reaction is simply because it just seems a bit silly. And perhaps that’s rather appropriate: I mean, some of these are about haunted video games. I don’t think they’re all meant to be taken entirely seriously.
I think another part of my impression is the nagging thought, Why not just call them ghost stories or scary stories? However, while they certainly share many of the same fundamental aspects of traditionally orally-told scary stories, creepypastas are also very much their own thing. They might rely on some traditional storytelling clichés, but they’ve also grown out of an online culture, created by people who’ve mainly grown up with the internet as an integral, ever-present part of their lives. You can see that not just in the stories, but how they’re shared, and how they incorporate technology into the stories themselves.
And I think that’s maybe the main thing that’s behind my reaction to the word: it’s not mine, and not part of my culture. It’s a word created by younger people, who’ve grown up in a different culture, with different norms.
I think that’s actually what’s behind my reaction to many neologisms or new abbreviations, and I suspect that’s true for many others as well. We grow up using largely the same language as our peers, which we can’t help but see as the norm, even if what we spoke in our formative years was probably thought of as a ridiculous hodgepodge of abbreviations and impenetrable slang by the previous generation.
It can be a sobering, sad thought, to know that a younger generation are doing things differently from you, and doing just fine. There’s no quick fix for it, but remembering that the language of your youth was equally ridiculous to adults of the time, and today’s creepypasta writers will find the language of their children ridiculous, does help.
So I’m not going to get too annoyed the word creepypasta, though I’m still not going to use it!