Monday, December 28, 2009

Urban Legends.

A couple of weeks ago My Lady and I went out to eat. I have mentioned before that we do this every payday. When we got there the cook, who is a friend of ours, told My Lady that you have to be careful. If you see a baby sitting in a car seat and covered in blood, alongside the road don't stop. A Mexican gang is setting this up and any woman who stops gets beat within an inch of their lives. She was very serious in telling us that. She claimed some police officers had been in there and were spreading the warning. I was polite and didn't say the first thing that came to mind, Penn and Tellers show. After she was out of earshot I told My Lady I was 99% sure that wasn't true. I also told her I would look into it and let her know.

I consider myself a news junkie. I read several newspapers online every day, plus Yahoo news and a few other sources. Had there been any truth to that story I would have read about it. The first thing I did was check out The story had all the elements of a classic urban legend. I have enjoyed those tales for many years. People know someone who knows someone whose third cousin this actually happened to. When I looked Snopes did not have the story. It appeared a few days later. I do not know the reasons it was started, but it did come from someone who works for the Tennessee Department of Corrections. That person should have known better, but obviously it didn't stop them. TDOC did issue a statement that this was false.

Stories like this are so popular because people seem to want to believe in them. Usually the gang initiations involve Wal-Mart. They are going to grab any single woman they can. Yes, things like that do happen, but they are isolated instances, not some planned event. People want to think there are always these mass conspiracies going on. They can't except that for the most part evil things done are by one person who is either mentally unstable or who simply doesn't care about anyone else. I am a firm believer in checking out stories before I pass them along as the truth. It is too easy to get an email and then blindly pass it along.


Al Penwasser said...

Yeah, all true. But everyone KNOWS that you have to watch out when you're in a bar. Because, someone can slip you something in your drink and then you'll wake up with your kidney removed.
You'll have to excuse me now. I have to go send a check to a Nigerian prince. He apparently really needs my help.

dsmcaron said...

I also check things out and even if they are true, I rarely forward things. Here in Des Moines last year, though, the police have sent out two messages and given them to the news. That sort of thing spread quickly. Both times were abduction attempts. They were both true, so it does pay to check things out.

Travis said...

My favorite thing that people do now when spreading these legends in e-mail, is they say that Snopes confirms it to be true. Of course I always check anyways. Lo and behold it is false!

Al Penwasser said...

After waking up this morning, my head was all groggy and my lower back hurt. When I looked in the mirror, I noticed a long scar running across my back. Damn! I KNEW I shouldn't have trusted that Nigerian prince!