Folklore are traditional stories and culture of a group of people. Normally the stories are passed through generations by word of mouth. Examples of folktales would be English ‘red riding hood’ or ancient Greek ‘Medusa’. Although, we know them as fairy tales for children, the traditional folk tales were made rather for adult audience. Stories about people who struggled with their fears and anxiety were supposed to help the ordinary with their day to day problems in real life.
The main character is normally a hero with special abilities that fights against the very bad villains. There is an element of duality with good and bad, very rarely characters are dichotomin. Setting takes place normally in less- or un-familiar areas for the hero, such as the woods, the underworld or a kingdom away from home. Usually throughout the story there are lessons and values reviled to moralise the recipient.
Although the folklore normally refers to old traditions and stories, nowadays we are able to observe an occurrence of digital folklore. The internet has given an opportunity to share any ideas that often turn into an ordinary ‘folk’ and become a part of day to day culture. Lynn McNeil named the internet “The world’s largest, unintentional, folklore archive”. Memes and other visual artefacts archived on the www are becoming the contemporary art folk.
The human element of whole experience is lost along the way, as normally all we see online is a visual or written expression. That is where the emoticons and abbreviations (e.g. LOL, WTF) were invented and made it to timeless museum of 21st century folklore.
Uploading something to the World Wide Web leaves it unleashed and uncontrolled. The content starts to live its own life, by being edited by number of people and reuploaded. This is how the idea of Memes has been invited. Richard Dawkins, an English evolutionary biologist said that the ideas could spread and mutate much like genes.
A great example of a digital folklore and how quickly is it likely to adapt into society is ‘Slenderman’. The character was created in 2009 when the website somethingawful.com run a competition for a disturbing, abnormal photo. From many of uploaded pieces only couple of them became famous, these which got picked up were also these with the Slenderman.
The website claimed that these are fake and a such person doesn’t exist. However, the pictures got noticed and shared in the internet. They made it onto different websites persuading that the creature is real and is taking the children away. As the story was circulating it happened to get many different narratives, and many different faces of the Slenderman. People created a background story and tried to link the facts along with the made-up stories. All of this elevated to the point where in June 2014 two girls attempted to kill their playmate in Wisconsin saying that the Slenderman told them to do so. By now the Slenderman has made it to the pop culture and folklore of the internet era.
The expansion of the virtual immersive reality will definitely allow the folklore to become even more relatable, throughout lifelike experiences.
In my opinion is absolutely crazy how quickly and uncontrolled the idea can evolve and become something else in the era of internet. Even only a thought of it is scary, as we are no longer in control of the information that we are fed with, therefore the internet should never become the only source of research and information.
During our contextual studies we were set a task where one person had to describe to the rest of the group a character from a provided photograph. The rest of a group had to do their best in depicting the outlined image.
The exercise was to show how the word of mouth can be changed and misinterpreted. That makes us realise how the folk tales have had changed throughout the time until they got written down (e.g. brothers Grimm).