How Technology is Making Folklore Obsolete

As a lifelong fan of folklore, having studied under the legendary Alan Dundes, I’m always interested in seeing changes over time and especially traditions becoming obsolete.

There are many definitions of folklore but I like this one by Jan Brunvand:

“Folklore is the traditional, unofficial, non-institutional part of culture. It encompasses all knowledge, understandings, values, attitudes, assumptions, feelings, and beliefs transmitted in traditional forms by word of mouth or by customary examples.”

I’m going to update this blog post with a running list as I hear them:

1) The Family Whistle

Last week I asked a friend if she has a family whistle, after she couldn’t find her son in a large store.

“Ya, it’s called a cell phone.” she replied.

The family whistle is an aspect of folklore that is oddly under discussed on the Internet. It definitely falls under the definition of folklore, having variations among different people, places and time. If you think I’m whistling Dixie, we also discussed it in Dr. Dundes’ class and in fact I had the honor of him dissing our whistle for being so basic. But hey, in folklore and finding your parents in a big store as a kid, whatever works.

2) Bad Photos

Yesterday I heard there are cameras with “Smile Capture and Blink Detection,” such as this Pentax. So long “Say cheese!” Not to mention re-taking photos, a somewhat time honored pain.

I’m sure there are tons more examples but these spoke to me in particular. Do any stick out in your mind?


One Comment

  1. Hi SuzieW,

    I liked your post about family whistling. I have collected a number of examples of family whistling during my research about human whistling. If these are of interest to you please contact me. Sincerely, Jim


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