General Information on the Urban Legend
When people speak about what is known as the urban legend, there are ideas and mythologies about the subject that immediately come to mind. The Loch Ness Monster is a popular one, not to mention the Bloody Mary urban legend. It can be seen as an example of modern folklore. The storytellers usually purport all urban legends to be true, even though there are several documented hoaxes of such phenomena.
The “urban” in urban legend does not apply to the type of location where it emerges, but it is in reference to the fact that the telling is of contemporary nature. As such, many people prefer to call them contemporary legends. While some urban legends have existed without much alteration throughout time, others have been adapted and changed to suit a more modern perspective. There will always be telling and retelling of regional folklore.
Roots of the Urban Legend
The term itself was coined in a magazine publication in 1968 by an English college professor named Jan Brunvand. It stuck, and over time grew to mean anything related to folkloric and mythological stories in the modern times. Preindustrial civilizations had their own versions of mythology, which are now known as traditional legends, and the term used for these sets them apart. Many of the earliest incarnations were based on true urban legends that were passed down from parent to child. One example is Area 51 being home to alien or extraterrestrial lifeforms.
While there are many neutral stories, there are a lot of scary urban legends designed to make a person wary about his or her living environment. Some of them can scare without intending to; such is the case with things like Bigfoot and the Yeti, as found by people camping in the deep woods. “Legend,” in this case, is not necessarily associated with being false or inaccurate. The legend aspect refers to the fact that there is incentive for it to be retold. An urban legend can easily be as true as it can be false. Sometimes it can be proven that there is more to the story.