Why Everyone Seems to Know the Same Urban Legends
You know that creepy urban legend you heard about that thing in your town? Yeah, someone is probably telling that very same story in another part of the country right now. Here's why everybody seems to know the same spooky stories, no matter where they are.
folklorist Dr. Andrea Kitta tells Thrillist
According to Kitta, believable urban legends also come from sources a few steps removed from the person actually telling the story (a "friend of a friend"). For example, my dorm roommate in college told me a story about his cousin's friend who found a dead body when they went swimming in an off-limits area of a nearby lake. This is a good start to an urban legend because the storyteller gave the tale some veracity by knowing the source, the events aren't so bizarre I couldn't believe they happened, and I also can't really follow up on it to see if it's true.
But how do these stories spread so far and wide? Dr. Joseph M. Stubbersfield, a research fellow in the propagation of narratives and cognitive bias at Durham University,
popular urban legends "go viral" when they carry some
Basically, urban legends are one insanely long game of telephone. They start as real-life events, hoaxes, or even written fiction, then get transformed over time as people share them. When you think about it, they're no different than an internet meme-starting as something simple then evolving into something with mass appeal as it passes from one person to the next. If you want to read more about how one popular urban legend in particular spread far and wide, check out the link below.