If there is anything that has change the way we used to live and particularly the way we used to communicate, then it has to be technology. Jan Fernback discusses the computer mediated communication as a locus of oral culture. The cultural significance of urban legends who are a type of oral folklore is discussed. She points out the role of cyberspace in oral culture along with the areas like humanity and sociability. What struck me in her discussion were the numerous examples she gave to deal with this topic. These examples definitely helped a lot in relating to the oral culture and how actually it has evolved throughout the years.
She shows how the terms like flaming, spamming and dot com entered our lives and became part of our cultural lexicon. I agree that CMC (computer-mediated communication) shoes elements of both oral and textual communication. The urban legends are examined within the cyberspace and these use the wired world for cultural transmission. The ability to communicate with “being there” is seen through the ways like chat rooms, bulletin boards and so on. She then mentions the tradition of ethno methodology to see how urban legends construct and interpret their sense of cultural reality. The point which grabbed my attention was the mention of urban legends as type of folktale. I too feel that the core themes and elements are maintained by them.
But I also agree to the distinction between the historical folklore and urban legends as the later try to depict the events which had not occurred even when they may tell the truth. What caught my attention was the mention of how moralistic components are attached to these and how they bring out the morbid cultural fascination. The way public imagination is influenced by urban legends is mentioned aptly with the example of “Red Velvet Cake”.
Jan has tried to bring out the arguments both in favour of as well as against the urban legends through ample examples. The most important aspect which is brought out be her is the way in which urban legends could relate the human conditions with empathetic nature. The discussion of the Halloween Candy forces me to look into the way things are surfaced with the urban legends. The capability of the urban legends to examine the issues of trust in the culture of ours is discussed extremely well