„The Backrooms“ is a phenomenon from the Internet and belongs to the category of creepypastas. These are fictional horror stories that Internet users share among themselves. The original story originated in 2019 on the platform 4chan and can be traced back to a certain photo. Since then, a whole story with profound additional information has been formed.
The original story of the backrooms
The story of backrooms includes a very special photo. On it you can see an empty room with yellowish wallpaper. There is no furniture and no people visible. In addition, it is of poor quality and therefore looks creepy. When exactly the picture was first posted is still unknown. Since the latest discoveries, it can be traced back to 2012, on the platform 4chan. But it didn’t really get attention until 2019, when it got a story to go with it.
It reads, „If you’re not careful and you noclip out of reality in the wrong areas, you’ll end up in the Backrooms, where there’s nothing but the stink of old moist carpet, the madness of mono-yellow, the endless background noise of fluorescent lights at maximum hum-buzz, and approximately six hundred million square miles of randomly segmented empty rooms to be trapped in. God save you if you hear something wandering around nearby, because it sure as hell has heard you.“
This story says that if you are not careful, you could fall through the bottom of the world (noclip) and end up in the backrooms. These are another reality where there is nothing but just these corridors with the yellow wallpaper and the hum of the ceiling lamps. They cover an area of more than six million square miles. It is also suggested that one may not be alone.
The split into two camps
After this story was posted, it quickly spread around the Internet. Other users added more layers, while others liked the image itself and built a community there. These two sides of the backrooms are important to understand and show how differently users received the origin story.
The other levels of backrooms
On one side, there are the people who embraced the concept of backrooms. They found the idea very interesting that someone could just fall through the floor and end up in the Backrooms. To add even more horror, more levels were created. The empty corridors with the yellow wallpaper are just the first level (in some cases, the zero level) that you could fall into.
Supposedly, there are 999 of these levels. Some of them are harmless, while others house monsters. There are no limits here and anyone can work on this project. The levels are partly inspired by other images that have similarities to the first photo of the backrooms. For example, level 1 is an empty warehouse, level 2 is a maze of shafts and pipes. It is hard to give a complete summary because not all parts of the community develop the same stories.
The stories are collected on the official wiki, but no longer come from just one user. This project is comparable to the SCP Foundation, which is also a kind of collaborative story between users from all over the world. Its popularity has also led to more and more content being created. YouTuber „Kane Pixels“ has become famous for taking this story and creating his own videos around it. Countless other users followed suit. In addition, several video games of the backrooms have already been developed.
Liminality and the Backrooms
The original image of the backrooms actually belongs to another trend. This one involves posting pictures on the internet that are normal at first glance, but give you an uncomfortable vibe. After 2019, this trend has continued and is now more known as „liminal spaces“. Liminality here is hard to define and describes a state of change or transition. The concept itself is already very old and did not just emerge through the internet.
In this case, it refers to certain places where you are not, but only pass through. The image of backrooms fit this description perfectly. Unlike the backroom community, there is no backstory added. People merely like to look at these images because they spread enough horror themselves. However, some of them are in turn used by other parts of the community and incorporated into the backrooms.
Again, there are some works to mention that resemble the backrooms and embrace liminality. However, these existed before 2019 but reflect a similar concept. Examples include the movie „The Shining“ (1980), the video game „Control“ (2019), or the book „House of Leaves“ (2000). Most likely, the original image and story of the backrooms were inspired by these works, from which the two camps were formed.