DP: What's driving people to pass this stuff on?
DM: A lot of it is just people's desire to do good. They think they're being helpful by passing along something — a piece about a missing child, or warning you about some sort of crime that you might fall victim to.
Some of it is just people looking to show off. "I'm smart. I know this and you don't."
Some of it is attempts to prove other people wrong about things, usually of a political nature. A lot of things that are truly urban legends: things that have narratives, that have plots, and morals. They're often a way that people encapsulate and pass along fears and anxieties. A lot of what we see is directly related to what's going on in the world.
They're also tacit ways of expressing or reinforcing prejudices. Maybe a crime rumor that has to do with gangs or Mexicans. And it's — "Well, I'm not saying this about whatever group. It's the story I heard says that they're doing whatever." It's sort of a camouflage.