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Urban Legends Revealed
- Me, Myself, and I
- An urban legend or urban myth is a kind of modern folklore consisting of stories often thought to be factual by those circulating them. (The term is often used with a meaning similar to that of the expression "apocryphal story"). Urban legends are not necessarily untrue, but they are often distorted, exaggerated, or sensationalized. Despite the name, a typical urban legend does not necessarily originate in an urban setting. The term is designed to differentiate them from traditional folklore in preindustrial times.
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"—so often, in fact, that "friend of a friend", or "FOAF", has become a commonly used term when recounting this type of story.
The urban legend phenomenon is well-known in other languages. In the Netherlands, for example, a tale about monkey meat gave rise to the term "broodje aap verhalen" (i.e., monkey sandwich stories).
Some urban legends have survived a long time, evolving only slightly over the years, as in the case of the story of a woman killed by spiders nesting in her elaborate hairdo. Newer legends tend to reflect modern circumstances, like the story of people ambushed, anaesthetized and waking up minus one kidney, which was surgically removed for transplantation.
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