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Urban legends

It might surprise you to know that the original fairy tales did not usually have happy endings. Fraught with tragedy, violence and sometimes shiver inducing morals, these stories were meant to teach a lesson or two about the dangers of the world and how bad things can happen to those caught unawares.

The same can be said for modern urban legends. Aside from being creepy and viral, urban legends have just enough truth in them to leave us unhinged. And while these contemporary stories are almost always not true, hence the title “legend,” they can teach us a few things other than not to pick up hitchhikers or check that your kidneys are still in place after a one night stand.

Which urban legends are the most popular at any given time can tell us a lot about the political climate that is in place, the general state of society and of course, the things most of us are most afraid of. Even classic urban legends change over time as the tellers attempt the fit the story more closely into their existing framework. A scary story with local detail is made the more scary, which is why specific place names and landmarks are often included, and there are often several versions of the same cautionary tale.

With the birth and growth of social media, these tales can spread and be altered more quickly than ever, giving us an even more accurate and timely state of affairs, so to speak. Stories are more likely to get passed on now, too. We all get a little social media high when something we post gets shared and commented.

The next time you come across an urban legend, examine it for clues as to what is really going on out in the world. Respond not by passing on the tale, but by becoming prepared.

Myth buster Snopes.com compiles a current top 25 list of the most popular urban legends, some of which are reported by by Snopes as true. At the time of this posting, the tales people are sharing and searching the most are very revealing.

When you weed out the standard bizarre mix of “rubber necking” types of posts ranging from a woman giving birth to eleven kids at once to popular movie characters being inspired by Nazi test subjects you have the following list:

The majority of the most popular urban legends have to do with mistrust of the government or major influencing organizations.

Close behind are stories with warnings against trusting food, medicine or medical supplies.

In third place are warnings of impeding global disaster brought on by comets or radiation.

Are you prepared?

 

Image Source: Morguefile

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