Urban Legends and Cultural Divides
Urban Legends and Cultural Divides
Urban legends are forms of modern culture shared by a certain group of individuals. Urban legends consists of traditions which are held and practiced by a particular group and may include jokes and fictional stories (Brunvand, 2012). Urban legends may be spread through the media, which include social media, radio, or newspapers. Urban legends have adapted over time in the way they are spread by being integrated into the current media (Brunvand, 2012). Traditional urban legends were passed on orally but with the advancement of technology, urban legends are currently passed through the available media with alterations in their compositions to be able to be accommodated into the current media. Urban legends can now be accessed via the social media and emails, which were not available in the traditional days (Brunvand, 2012).
The internet has also made it easy to spread urban legends. One of the urban legend I can remember hearing as a child is the story of Santa Claus also known as Father Christmas. This legend story focused on Santa who is said to bring gifts to the well-behaved children on the day before Christmas by coming out of the sky (Proud, 2016). Santa Claus was portrayed as a man with a long white beard wearing a red coat and red hat. This story was all over the media through songs and movies, which made a lot of impact to everyone up to today. As an adult, I have encountered some urban legends, which include the bogeyman story, which involves a creature that is used to terrify people and children into good behavior. This myth is meant to prevent young people from engaging in immoral behaviors (Proud, 2016).
Bogeyman is presented as a monster with great power that can kidnap people and eat them. Parents can use this urban legend to raise their children in a morally accepted behavior (Proud, 2016). There are many counterintuitive elements existing in the urban legends that I have encountered which include legends that cannot be killed or live forever like Santa Claus which are against the normal reasoning (Grant, 2015). Most of the urban legends focus on the hazards involved instead of benefits, which has been indicated to increase the virality of the legends. The fact that these urban legends are untrue to the normal situations is what makes the legends more popular as people are able to remember these legends more (Grant, 2015).
These tales evoke strong emotions of fear and anger. Some of the tales, which include Bloody Mary, tell a horror story (Grant, 2015). However, this does not prevent the spreading of the urban legends. This helps in validating one’s real and genuine fears. A tale like the slender man has been indicated to increase fear after it was discovered that it had inspired violent attackers (Grant, 2015). There are also elements to these stories that deal with death and survival. Most of these tales indicate death consequently for going against the rules or engaging in particular activities. Survival is also an option if one adheres to the required behaviors or activities. Based on one’s choice, there is a consequence related to death or survival (Grant, 2015).
Some are meant to warn against a behavior or activity that can lead to death or serious consequences. Urban legends will still be there in the future becoming more powerful than ever due to the influence through the media (Grant, 2015). Since the media has enabled the spread of the urban legends to a large number of individuals, this will increase the impact that these urban legends have on individuals (Grant, 2015). Urban legends are also used as a source of entertainment, which increases their spread. These stories will eventually become part of reality and will influence how individuals behave and remember things. Urban legends will continue evolving and prevailing in the current generation to the future (Grant, 2015).
Brunvand, J. H. (2012). Encyclopedia of urban legends. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO.
Grant, H. (2015). Urban legends. London : RHCP Digital.
Proud, J. (2016). Urban Legends: Bizarre Tales You Won’t Believe. Chichester: Summersdale Publishers Ltd.