How to Start a New Urban Legend

by Culture & Society Editor

There is nothing like a good story, and nothing like being the one who started a famous urban legend. If you're feeling mischievous, start your very own urban legend. You may not be able to prove you started it, but at least you'll feel good when you hear it re-told.

Start a New Urban Legend

Research urban legends to get an idea of what's out there before making a new one. Visit Snopes to for a comprehensive list of urban legends (see Resources box).

Take a joke and twist it into an urban legend. Leave the funnier elements of the joke, but add a darker tone to them by adding elements of death, horror or injury.

Twist history into an urban legend. Add an element of conspiracy to your tale if you want to make it more difficult to prove. Connecting a character to a socially unacceptable group, such as the Ku Klux Klan, adds an extra kick to the legend.

Create an urban legend to scare someone into acting the way you want them to. This is most often done in urban legends surrounding children. Kidnapping, bizarre injury or death are the common dark threads among urban legends.

Make up a legend involving sex. Legends involving dirty deeds, especially unconventional ones involving animals or people of the same gender, are popular and often re-told simply because of their dirty joke status.

Spread a New Urban Legend

Tell people your story. Parties where people are telling jokes or lively dinners are good places to tell a lot of people at once.

Email your urban legend to friends and family. This method works exceptionally well if it's a story that sounds like it could be a news event, such as a credit card scam.

Write down your urban legend and put it on a website. You can put your story on a forum, or even on your blog.

Send your urban legend to Snopes, the web's most comprehensive urban legend resource, after your legend starts getting popular (see Resources box). The true test of a widespread legend is if it gets on Snopes.

Tip

  • Before releasing your urban legend, make sure you would believe it. If it's something that would concern you if it was real, it's a good legend.

Warning

  • Don't start hurtful urban legends about specific people. Real people who are embarrassed and defamed might sue you for slander.

Photo Credits

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