Folklore doesn’t meme what you think it memes
When most people think of “folklore” they think of the old, the rural, the rustic. They typically don’t think of the Internet, a technology that, if anything, is commonly judged to be dismantling our culture: destroying our interpersonal skills, squashing our cultural vitality, killing our individual creativity. Surprisingly, however, communications technologies like mobile phones, tablets, and computers have become the locus of a huge expanse of contemporary folk culture. Understanding the nature of folklore helps us identify the positive elements of digital culture.
Lynne S. McNeill was born and raised in northern California, and if she had known what a folklorist was when she was a child, she’d have wanted to be one when she grew up. Happily, she is a folklorist now, teaching folklore classes at Utah State University and specializing in digital culture, legend, and belief. Lynne co-directs the Digital Folklore Project, serves as director of the online folklore minor and as reviews editor for the journal Contemporary Legend, and tweets as an old, male folklorist named Wayland Hand. She is the author of Folklore Rules, the most fabulous introductory text book you’ll ever read (assuming that you 1: read it some day, and 2: avoid other really fabulous textbooks). Lynne has appeared on Animal Planet and the Food Network, and has been a repeat guest on PRI’s RadioWest. She is a collector of wines and loves to travel.
When asked about her career she says, “What I love about folklore is that too often in the humanities we hold up the singular minds that exist in the world. In folklore, everyone can achieve greatness. In folklore, the everyday lived experiences are legitimate and valued.”
Lynne lives in Logan with her husband Stephen, a criminologist, with whom she had planned to create a prime time folklore-themed crime drama, until NBC’s Grimm got there first.