Wednesday, March 12, 2008

How Urban Legends Work

Howstuffworks has an informative essay up on How Urban Legends Work. It was written by Tom Harris. Urban legends often become a part of folklore and history. What urban legend circulated today will be considered a historical fact by future historians? Which urban legends of ancient times are considered true today?

Parts of this article include:

1. Introduction to How Urban Legends Work

2. Types of Urban Legends

3. Friend of a Friend

4. Sources of Urban Legends

5. What Do Legends Mean?

6. Urban Legends and the Internet

7. Lots More Information

From the site:

Folklorists have come up with a number of definitions for urban legend. To many, a legend must be a story, with characters and some sort of plot. Others lump widely dispersed misinformation into the urban-legend category. For example, the erroneous belief that you will automatically pass all of your college courses in a semester if your roommate kills himself is generally considered to be an urban legend.

While these "facts" don't always have the narrative elements of traditional legend, they are passed from person to person and frequently have the elements of caution, horror or humor found in legends. Particular urban legends may be spread either as fact or as a story. For example, someone could tell you that there are giant alligators in New York's sewers, or he could tell you a riveting story about a group of kids who stumbled upon such an animal.

1 comment:

doughnuts said...

When I was a kid there was an urban myth that anything you photocopied with the new Xerox photocopiers was transferred to and stored in a secret file at Xerox. I actually believed this for a while. It could feasilbly be quite easy to achieve.