Social media is a huge part of our lives in the modern era. Below I’ve shared some graphs for active twitter and Facebook users, some of the biggest social media websites in the world. I myself use Twitter quite frequently to both share my feelings and promote my writing. It’s important for businesses and friend connections, though sometimes can lead to really horrible issues.
Urban Fantasy is typically seen in cities and definitely in the modern era. That said, there’s ways to show social media in your story that will make the reader more connected to it depending on your audience. That’s the beauty of contemporary fantasy–you can bring the magic to their world. Social media is an everyday thing for tons of folks, but what if we blended magic into that as well?
5. Potion recipe sites (with those long-ass stories, too)
I just had to share this classic fantasy meme because it’s too funny. But really, people share recipes on social media all the time, so why not their potion recipes? If your world has ever-evolving magic that includes potions, new recipes could be found all the time. Plus, combining it with real-food recipes might be a huge treat. Magical food that grants ‘buffs’ or ‘powers’ is common in games, after all, as are potions. Why not in your story?
We can’t forget the fairly long stories included with the recipes, either. The reason they’re there, usually, is so there can be ad revenue for the person sharing the recipe. That’s a double whammy right there–you’re also linking magical items that could be flashed to the website visitor, which is actually the perfect transition into my next point!
4. Online Business-Magic items?
What if your magical dildo restored your mana or gave you temporary superspeed? What? I had to ask the question. That seems to be a pretty common ad on social media. Beyond sex toys, however, practically every business that wants to actually sell anything needs to utilize social media. Trust me, as a writer trying to sell my work, I know. I’m on there all the time promoting my work.
Therefore, you’d see magic items being sold on the regular on social media. You could create genuine ads where they’re supposed to be, and of course utilize characters or bots that SPAM in your story for some flavor. Imagine a repeating “ACT WITHIN THE NEXT 24 HOURS AND GET A FREE FLYING FROG!” spammed on a post that has nothing to do with the product being sold. That’d annoy the hell out of my characters, though it’s pretty common to see on places like Twitter.
You could create your own business page graphics and products in your books or on your website for flavor. There’s a ton of really cool stuff! Actually, this is a perfect time to bring up a surrealism piece I found on youtube. You can also create commercials if you think you have enough skill! Take a look at this oddity.
This surrealism place actually exists in Las Vegas as a tourist attraction. It’s an uncanny-valley sort of place filled with mystique. This video also has, at the end, another thing I want to highlight–a slogan. Why not make a chime or saying for your magical business they’d post on social media and such?
3. Actually Cursed Websites/Videos
Don’t worry friends, this isn’t a real cursed commercial. I made sure of it. (We’ll ignore the void I visited for a few weeks following my watching of this commercial, it’s unrelated I’m sure). Anyway, we all know in our world that cursed emails or videos don’t exist (allegedly), right? Well, that doesn’t have to be the case in your world. Those spam emails that say “you’d better forward this to 20 people or be visited by a demon who will steal your feet” were common decades ago, and I still see them today in some form in social media posts.
Memes in general are spread a lot even today and going strong. Cursed memes, messages, or videos could be utilized in your story for a major problem. I know the SCP Foundation has a few cognitohazards (you’re fucked if you see it), so if you have something like that in your story… well, your characters are in for a treat. Also, good luck dispelling these cursed things. That could actually be a plot you might want to utilize in your story.
2. Casting spells through the web
In a similar vein to the last point, casting spells through the web could be interesting. It’d be a singular person rather than a cursed message or video in this case. They would identify someone they dislike (or like, it doesn’t have to all be doom and gloom) and cast misfortune or luck upon them. You might want to set some constraints, though, like ‘needing to know the user’s real name’ or ‘address’. You could actually use a story like this to spread awareness of the dangers of doxxing (revealing real life info on someone online) through a fantasy setting.
There really is no limit to the cauldron of ideas when it comes to casting through the web. Think about your limits when using this tool, and what messages you can send with it.
1. Portals to Other Worlds
This is similar to spells or curses, but actually would be portals. It could be a known portal or rigged webpage. It’s cool to imagine the ability to teleport through the world wide web. What if you could actually do that though? Step through your screen and end up someplace else? You could utilize web addresses for this, and certain ones would bring you someplace else. Consequently, things from other worlds could come out of the device utilizing the internet and attack (or befriend) you.
There could be a mystery surrounding this as well. Either ‘why are so many people vanishing out of thin air’ or ‘where are all of these monsters coming from?!’
BONUS: Character Profiles (Real Life!)
Here’s a real life bonus piece! You could make social media profiles for your characters who interact with readers. Not technically magical in the ‘casting spells’ sense. It’s magical because your community can interact with your creations! I’ve seen people do it before, and admittedly it sounds like a TON of fun. I’ve considered doing so for Ares more than once.
I hope this gave you some awesome ideas to brainstorm for your urban fantasy work! I know I haven’t utilized…well… any of this in my works yet, but I definitely will consider doing so in the future. Especially the cursed video thing. I might not make it as dramatic as some people try to play out the videos will do, but a negative temporary debuff? That’s plausible. Something scarier would be reserved for a monster coming out of the screen. Oof!