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Popular Urban Myths Essay

Experts have stated that urban legends are an essential part of popular culture because they provide intuitiveness into our fears and aversions. Urban legends exist to give us examples of life lessons, conspiracy theories but mostly because they are fun to tell. An urban legend is often a story told by mouth with different variations to entertain a particular crowd. It is almost always impossible to find the original source of the legend since it is passed around from one to another. There is almost always a moral lesson behind the legend told, even if the legend is false and fictional.

Urban legends are rejoicing to prove true or false ut not as important as the lesson provided following it. Popular urban legends like the bride that died from over tanning or how there is rat pee in soda are told to startle the audience and prevent them from repeating the same actions. For example, the legend about the bride that died from tanning excessively has been proven false but is still continued to be told to frighten the ones who think about UV tanning. Is it said that tanning under UV lights is harmful to the skin causing wrinkles and even deathly diseases like skin cancer or melanoma.

The legend is told in order to protect the ones who enjoy UV tanning, oping to change their point of view after hearing the story. The legend about rat pee in soda cans is told to disgust and sicken the audience in hopes preventing them from drinking soda. With all the added sugar in sodas, it is proven that soda is unhealthy to the human body since is causes weight increase and sugar high. People who drink soda on the regular rack up the unspeakable amount of calories and sometimes think they are addicted to it.

There are many different urban legends told for similar reasons, even if they are fictional and impossible to be proven true (Whipps 1). Many people are familiar with the rban legend that cell phones interfere with airplane instruments. We have almost all been on an airplane and heard a flight attendant say, “Please power off your electronic devices like mobile phones, laptops during take off and landing as they may interfere with the airplane system”. Although most follow the flight attendant’s instructions, you can always catch a few who still continue to do what they were doing on their electronic devices.

It makes us wonder if we are actually interfering with airplane instruments or if the legend is a just another busted myth. If it is indeed a busted myth, why does this instruction still xist and why do people continue to believe in it? What is the real reason behind this urban legend that’s been around for over a century? Thinking logically, if cell phone usage on airplanes was a real hazard and a safety issue to all those on board, why isn’t it enforced and why isn’t there a law to prevent all those who disregard the instructions?

The most congruous argument put forth on the topic of banning electronic devices on planes is the possibility of electromagnetic interference with aircraft systems. Hypothetically, active radio transmitters such as cell phones, laptops, iPads, etc. may interfere with aircraft, especially being rue for older planes using sensitive instruments like galvanometer based displays (Arora 1). According to U. S. news and world report, “Boeing investigated several cases in the 1990s where aircraft crews reported that laptop computers or gaming devices caused autopilot disconnects, uncommanded airplane rolls or instrument display malfunctions.

The aircraft manufacturer was never able to replicate the reported anomalies in lab tests. ” (Hsu 1). This widely believed, by experts, to be the origin of this wild notion that cell phones and other electronic devices. Based on the idea that radio frequencies rom cell phones interfere with the radio frequencies on aircraft instruments, it has been concluded, “that the radio frequencies that are assigned for aviation use are separate from commercial use”. In fact, the wiring and instruments for aircraft are shielded to protect them from interfering with the commercial wireless devices. (Arora 1).

The concern that that wireless devices like cell phones and laptops emit active transmissions on the electromagnetic spectrum was solved by Federal Communications Commission (FCC), by diving the spectrum into different chunks for different uses, so a cell phone can’t nterfere with the bands reserved for aircraft communications or GPS navigation systems (Hsu 1). Federal agencies and airlines continue to stress the caution about electronic devices airplanes, even though researchers and aircraft companies have yet to find direct evidence of cell phone devices interfering with aircraft systems (Hsu 1). Federal Aviation Administration recently gave the official word that there is no technical reason to forbid the use of on-board mobile systems and cell phones – in other words, there is no interference with aircraft systems” (Jenkins 1).

After researching nd finding out the myth is false, the next thought that comes to mind is, “If there are no safety issues with using your cell phones, why do flight attendants continue to restrict cell phone usage while on board? Some other interesting reasons on the restriction of cell phone usage found while researching, are that the airlines may be using the myth to keep passengers under control by setting a few rules in the beginning of the flight. Another captivating thought is that a few devices if kept on may not be powerful enough to cause any interference but if 100 or more devices are left on, may cause problems with airplane ommunication system because of the united power from combined radio frequencies (Arora).

An additional assumption for the reason behind the restrictions of cell phones on airlines is that wireless devices may not interfere with airplane instruments but have a lot more to do with possible interference for ground networks. It is stated that in 1991, the Federal Communications Commission banned in-flight use of most cell phones and wireless devices, citing the reason of ground network interference.

Although Federal Aviation Administration regulations supported the FCC decision, some airlines still continued to allow passengers to use cell hone devices as long as they were “airplane mode”, which is believed to shut off phone transmissions. Throughout the years, FCC considered rescinding the in-flight ban on wireless devices, but in 2007 came to a conclusion that it was best to keep the current rules in place since there wasn’t enough evidence to prove whether or not there was a harmful interference between ground networks and wireless devices in-flight.

An RTCA report commissioned by the FAA, in 2006, also cited a lack of evidence and recommended keeping the current rules on electronic devices” (Hsu 1). In Conclusion, even though urban legend about cell phone sage interfering with airline communications and instruments is proven false, it is still recommended to keep your phone away or at least in “airplane mode” just to be safe.

The legend continues to exist after all these years to frighten passengers and prevent them from using their electronic devices on board. With today’s technology, it is almost impossible to descent the legend once its told because of the rapid mass communications and the widespread use of the internet (Whipps 1). The legend isn’t going to prevent every passenger to stop using their cell phone but it will have some degree of an impact on most after hearing about it.

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