The push and pull of reality, the idea of “in real life” or not. The ever-present fear of the internet tickles the back of our brains, despite being among the first to permeate what the internet means. To not fear the internet, but not now wholly trust it.
Between the whispers of stranger danger and the glowing wonder of seemingly unlimited information, I was born somewhere at the end of the millennial generation. I remember a dial-up tone but do not hold it to my nostalgia as a transporting sound. The internet as we know it today was fledgling when I was, and we seemed to grow up together, forever intertwined in a way that I don’t think other sections of our generations are. A lost group of kids grows into a lost group of adults that don’t have a home.
Digital folklore as a general concept feels like this. An in-between that only exists with, but who also could possibly exist without. Of course, you couldn’t have the Slenderman without the internet- or could you? Could you have me, the blossoming podcast critic without the internet?
We can’t know what we would or wouldn’t have at this point. We can examine what we do, and how it all interacts with what was happening in the times before the internet: how it exists with humanity as a whole.
From 8th Layer Media and distributed by Realm, Digital Folklore as the podcast looks at what we now consider to be folklore. This is folklore that only could exist in the digital age. Hosts Perry Carpenter and Mason Amadeus take us through digital myths in a fantastic way. I was graciously granted access to the first three episodes, the first of which releases today.
The forty-ish minute episodes toe the line between interview and fiction podcast mechanics of storytelling. You have settings for each episode that aren’t your studio, characters that may or may not actually be interview subjects, and a pet raccoon. He is Digby, who makes our Mason 50% more productive at editing “just by being there”. This is a treat of a podcast in overall style and storytelling, but also with the kindness that this subject matter is being handled. It’s not as easy as we want to think. Folklore is a reflection of who we are as humans, and the presence of the internet in these stories doesn’t change that fact.
Take, for instance, the first episode’s subject moral panics. Examined through the lens of the now forever-haunting Slenderman.
As many did, I played the video game in front of a computer monitor in a computer room. I knew vaguely of the beginnings of this internet myth and enjoyed the hair-raising sensation of exploring. I am also notably, a wimp. So I did, and still don’t dive deeply into that corner of the internet. However, what the general public tends to know about Slenderman is the tragedy that occurred in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
A tragedy that the podcast touches on with tact. Despite the presence of Digby and other silly fiction podcast mechanics, the moments of sincerity and reality hit hard. Arguably because of the balance between fiction and reality that this podcast is taking, it hits harder. I am struck by the care that these heavier topics are handled with. The way that Slenderman in particular is handled gives me confidence that even when dipping into the darker corners of digital folklore, this podcast will be handling it with respect.
I like how the podcast lowers the listener’s guard as we feel like we might be stepping into a sideways, funny world of Supernatural or Ghostbusters - but then brings us firmly back to the fact that this is an interview podcast with experts in these fields. Now, if there ends up being a full fictional arc to this podcast that will just make it more fun for the listeners.
Listen to the first episode today, then set your alerts for those incoming. I wish they would have released the second episode with the first, but you know. Good things come to those who wait.
Listen to Digital Folklore Here
If you think you’ll like this podcast, consider reading my review of Bridgewater (read here) a fiction podcast that sinks deep into the world of folklore. Season two just came out and it’s going to be a wild ride - so catch up while you can.
Thank you for reading and consider subscribing right here. If you do, you get monthly updates on what I’ve been up to on the first Friday of every month. It’s the best way to support me if you don’t want to go digging around for my handle on social media. @IamKeelinit is the way to find me.