A young lady was on her way home in her 4x4 from an evening out the other day. When she approached the four way stop in a deserted area she saw the body of a man lying in the middle of the road. Realizing that hijackers often use this ruse to lure their unsuspecting victims out of their cars the young lady drives off the road and into the adjoining veld (overgrown wasteland) and skirts around the prostrate form. She thought that maybe it was a genuine dead person so she drove to the local police station to report the incident. The police escorted her back to the scene but there was no sign of the man who was lying in the road. While they were talking to the lady they heard a cellphone ringing next to the road and went to investigate. The police then discovered the dead bodies of 3 armed men in the veld where they had been lying in wait for her to stop the vehicle. She had ridden over them when she took her detour around the "body".
Serves them right! Why do they want to hijack people? And I know this is true because it happened to Liza's best friend's sister. And she knows the lady personally. But wait, it also happened to the colleague of Susan's brother's girlfriend and the girl is so traumatized she must go for counseling! Oh, and it also happened to Jan's nephew's fiancee and Ben asked if I heard what happened to his school buddy's sister? Hey wait, is this the same girl? But it can't be because it happened over a period of about three years. No, my dear readers, this is actually what is called an urban legend.
What is an urban legend? According to Wikipedia: “An urban legend, urban myth, or urban tale is a form of modern folklore consisting of stories thought to be factual by those circulating them. The term is often used to mean something akin to an "apocryphal story." Like all folklore, urban legends are not necessarily false, but they are often distorted, exaggerated, or sensationalized over time.”
So it is a story told as true and just plausible enough to be believed, about some horrific, embarrassing, ironic or exasperating series of events that supposedly happened to a real person. It is also sometimes a cautionary tale ( a story with a moral message warning of the consequences of certain actions or character flaws ) Urban legends are most often false. Sometimes it is inspired by an actual event, but evolved into something different as they become distorted, exaggerated, or sensationalized over time in their passage from one person to the next.
The one above is just one example. There are many urban legends, some old some new. Sometimes old one's just gets modernized. My mother told my some stories that were told to her when she was a teenager and the same stories were later told to me by other people – just a bit updated and it just happened a week or month or so ago. One good example is the vanishing
Basically the vanishing hitchhiker is a figure seen in the headlights of a car traveling at night with a single occupant.
The figure adopts the stance of a hitchhiker. The motorist stops and offers the figure a lift. The journey proceeds, sometimes in total silence, and at some subsequent point the passenger appears to vanish while the vehicle is in motion. In many cases the hitchhiker vanishes exactly when the vehicles stops after reaching a point the hitchhiker wanted to be dropped.
So how do you know it is an urban legend? Some signs that a story is likely a false urban legend:
• It happened to a friend of a friend, not to the storyteller.
• There are many variations.
• The general topic is one that’s often on the news or what people gossip most about — death, sex, crime, contamination, technology, ethnic stereotypes, celebrities, horror or beating the system.
• It contains a warning or moral lesson of some kind.
• It’s just too weird or too good to be true.
Use the above mentioned signs and test the hijacker story and what do you get?
In the past urban legends were passed around from person to person or sometimes person to a few, but with our new technologies it is easier to pass around. For example you receive an email about the would-be hijackers that died, and thinking “Yes!, at least we've got some of them” you forward the email to all 258 people in your contact list. Some of them will read and ignore it but others will forward it again and so the cycle repeats itself again and again and.....
But it is not just urban legends that is passed around by email. Sometimes people will send and forward emails with good advice, health tips or warnings about something. In some cases it contains some truth, but mostly it is only partly true or completely distorted and sometimes even outright lies. And then you get the hoaxes.
According to Wikipedia a hoax is a "deliberate attempt to dupe, deceive or trick an audience into believing, or accepting, that something is real, when the hoaxer knows it is not; or that something is true, when it is false In an instance of a hoax, an object, or event, is not what it appears to be, or what it is claimed to be"
A nice example is the following that I received from a very intelligent young lady.
It was on the Oprah!
Dear Friends; Please do not take this for a junk letter. Bill Gates sharing his fortune. If you ignore this, You will repent later. Microsoft and AOL are now the largest Internet companies and in an effort to make sure that Internet Explorer remains the most widely used program, Microsoft and AOL are running an e-mail beta test.
When you forward this e-mail to friends, Microsoft can and will track it ( If you are a Microsoft Windows user) For a two weeks time period.
For every person that you forward this e-mail to, Microsoft will pay you R245.00 For every person that you sent it to that forwards it on, Microsoft will pay you R243.00 and for every third person that receives it, You will be paid R241.00. Within two weeks, Microsoft will contact you for your address and then send you a check.
I thought this was a scam myself, But two weeks after receiving this e-mail and forwarding it on. Microsoft contacted me for my address and within days, I receive a check for R24,800.00. You need to respond before the beta testing is over. If anyone can afford this, Bill gates is the man.
If it was on Oprah it must be true! The young lady was so excited because of all the money that she was going to get. She sent it to all her contacts and she had a lot. She did not want to believe me when I told her that it is a hoax, but after she read on Snopes that it was a hoax she got mad at the person that send it to her.
Earlier this week I received the following:
DID U KNOW ABOUT THIS LAW?
Woman Arrest Law:
An incident took place - a young girl was attacked by a man posing as a plain clothes officer; he asked her 2 come 2 the police station when she & her male friend didn't have a driver's license 2 show. He sent the boy off 2 get his license and asked the girl to accompany him to
the police station. Took her instead to an isolated area where the horrendous crime was committed.
The law [which most of us are not aware of] clearly states that between 6 pm and 6 am, a woman has the right to REFUSE to go to the Police Station, even if an arrest warrant has been issued against her.
It is a procedural issue that a woman can be arrested between 6pm and 6am, ONLY if she is
arrested by a woman officer & taken to an ALL WOMEN police station. And if she is arrested by a male officer, it has to be proven that a woman officer was on duty at the time of arrest.
Please fwd this 2 as many girls you know. Also 2 the guys coz this can help them protect their wives, sisters and mothers. It is good for us to know our rights.
Do not neglect, fwd to your entire buddy list
The first thing that I noticed is that it is very vague. No specifics about incident or which law and then they talk about an “ ALL WOMEN police station” I used Google and found the same message in India and the US. In both places it was confirmed to be false and such a law does not exist. And then yesterday on News24 they said 'Woman Arrest Law' e-mail a hoax
I know people mean well by sending and forwarding the emails, but what would happen to a woman about to be arrested after 6pm and she refuse to go to the police station? The police will probably add another charge and that just because of somebody that meant well told her about a law that does not exist.
I want to ask you a big favor. Please learn how to spot a scam or hoax and re-educate your friends who send them to you. If you receive a chain letter or mass-mailed warning that you feel is really, really important and that everyone really, really should read, please make sure that it is true before forwarding it.
To make sure you can use Snopes or Hoax-Slayer or just Google it. If the email seems to be from a specific company or organization contact them to make sure. You may just find out that Mr. Alba Tross is not the head of the Dept. of Fisheries.
But if you seriously don't mind embarrassing yourself, and you feel that the email is not really a chain letter because its contents are so vital, and there is no way something as trivial as good manners can allow you to stop yourself from spamming your address book just send it.