Urban legends are a form of modern folklore in which stories that may or may not have been are believed by their tellers to be true. Like 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. The appeal of a typical urban legend is its elements of mystery, horror, fear or humor. Some urban legends are morality tales that depict someone, usually a child, acting in a disagreeable manner, only to wind up in trouble, hurt, or dead
Urban legends are sometimes repeated in news stories and, in recent years, distributed by e-mail. People frequently allege that such tales happened to a “friend of a friend (FOAF).” Some urban legends have passed through the years with only minor changes to suit regional variations.
More recent legends tend to reflect modern circumstances, like the story of people ambushed, anesthetized, and waking up minus one kidney, which was surgically removed for transplantation. Urban legends can be related as complete stories with plot and characters. Specific urban legends include tales about serial killers hiding in back seats (HAPPENS), Lochness Monster photo, photos of the rare “Rainbow Owl,” an almost-extinct species native to both China and the western U.S. – (FAKE).
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