April 2014 Discussion Post: Urban Legends

April 1, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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If you’ve never heard the term “urban legend” or “urban myth” before, it refers to – in a definition shamelessly stolen from Wikipedia – “a form of modern folklore consisting of stories that may or may not have been believed by their tellers to be true. As with all folklore and mythology, the designation suggests nothing about the story’s veracity, but merely that it is in circulation, exhibits variation over time, and carries some significance that motivates the community in preserving and propagating it.”

You’ve probably been told some form of urban legend as if it were a truth at some point in your life – I remember the whole “pop rocks and soda will make you explode AND DIE!!!” legend going around my elementary school (complete with dares to try it, of course), and as recently as last month I’ve seen people circulating – seemingly in earnest – the absolutely ancient myth about gang initiations and car headlights. Urban legends tend to have incredibly long lifetimes, and it’s very possible that some of you have unknowingly helped to spread an urban myth that originally spread before you were even born!

If you’d like to explore and familiarize yourself with most of the more famous urban legends, Snopes and Urban Legends Online are your best bets.

If you want to go directly to the creepy/horror urban legends, that category can be found right here.

So let’s talk about urban legends this month. Which of these tall tales is your favorite? Have you ever been guilty of spreading an urban legend, either for fun or because you actually believed it? Were you surprised to see that any of the legends listed on the linked sites were actually just stories? Why do you think certain legends manage to stick around for so long? So on and so forth – I just figured that, given that this discussion post would be publishing on April Fool’s Day, we might as well discuss all the interesting and wild and even creepy hoaxes and legends that have cropped up and spread around throughout the ages.

Have fun!