#55 The Indelible Power of a Shared Story
The true magic of storytelling and why it may be fading
I started this newsletter because I think stories are like magic. They change the state of matter whether through the act of creating or telling a story. They are also an inherently human creation. All animals communicate, trees talk to each other, but the unique art of telling a tale is beautifully human.
Stories, ultimately, connect us. To each other, to the world, and to our experience of life on earth sharing space and time with other humans. Helping people understand, unpack, craft, and share their stories is a big part of why I’m here. It’s taken me a few decades to figure that out, but in the figuring came so many stories and experiences that I now get to share with you, sweet reader. It’s why I’ve launched Storytelling University so I can do more of it (any business owners or marketers out there should check out the pilot course on storytelling for business—I’ve packed SO much knowledge into it for anyone who wants to share a unique brand or business story with new audiences). It’s wonderful to find your purpose sitting at the centre of the thing you love to do most.
But this post is not about me. It’s about us. Because we live in a time where sharing our stories with new audiences is easier and easier. The gift and curse of the internet and social media is that so many more of us can connect with new audiences and share our view of things. They’ve made room for important social movements and made us all aware of experiences, ways of living, and tragedies in parts of the world far from where we call home.
They’re important. But they’re also set up in a way that allows us to pick and choose the stories we see. In fact, a lot of them are set up to pick and choose the stories we see for us. In the name of personalization. But I’ve started to wonder what we lose when the stories we see are only the ones we’ve curated or that have been curated for us and how that changes our perception and experience of the world. It’s why I read the New York Times and the Jacobin. It’s why I try to talk to people who have experiences far outside of my bubble of West Toronto. It’s why I love to travel and stopped hating dating as much. All of them are opportunities to hear, see, or experience new stories from people who are different from me.
Because there was once a time where we all watched the same network shows and variations of the same network news and had a more shared and collective sense of who we are, where we stood in the world and how things were going. I don’t think I want to go back to that time, because it also meant voices like my own had fewer opportunities to be heard and what was deemed important were decided by (mostly white) men who probably could not even begin to imagine the stories of little Black girls like me or any of my friends.
But, I do think we lost something as so many of us moved away from traditional media stories and onto the internet to find newer stories. And that is a sense of shared experiences. I don’t quite yet know how to get back to the benefit of those shared stories, but I do believe the path exists and it’s important to seek out. Because our shared stories also create empathy and fuller, connected, more caring societies. And that’s important too—I think it’s essential for human survival to be honest.
When was the last time you had a shared experience through a story with a large community of people? What did that feel like? How often does it happen? Could it be happening more?
In the meantime I think it’s our job as storytellers to seek out different stories that exist outside our bubble and our point of view (even it makes us uncomfortable). If only to do the small part of finding and holding onto the magic of shared stories. I’d love to hear what you think on this , I’m obsessed with the idea and in my early days of thinking about it so please share your thoughts via email or in the comments below.
And if you haven’t already:
A Story Well Told
Ted Lasso is back and that’s all I have to say.
The fact that I haven’t written about this heart-filled storytelling is shocking to me. But also means I was saving it for an entire post (which will come once I’ve finished Season Two).
For reference (I am obsessed):
Subscribing and sharing are the two best ways to help me continue to share my own adventure in storytelling. If you know someone who has a story to tell and may need some help crafting it, please share this newsletter with them and encourage them to subscribe.
Have a question? Something you’d like me to cover in a future letter—an element of your storytelling you may be struggling with? Just ask. Leave a comment on the website or reply to the email. I’m here to help.
Thanks for reading and I’ll “see” you next week. Whatever the world may bring, there will always be important stories that need you to tell them. I’ll be here to help.