The Power of Stories

“The truly unique feature of our language is…the ability to transit information about things that do not exist at all. As far as we know, only Sapiens can talk about entire kinds of entities that they have never seen, touched, or smelled.”
– Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Once upon a time, we were not the only human species that roamed the earth. We had our bigger, stronger brothers and sisters that fall under the Homo Neanderthal species, we also had our smaller brothers and sisters in the eastern part of Indonesia, Flores. But in the end, it is only our species, Homo Sapiens, that survived the test of time until today.

Why?

“The secret was probably the appearance of fiction. Large numbers of strangers can cooperate successfully by believing in common myths.”
-Yuval Noah Harari

It is our species’ unique ability to tell stories that left us as the only human species in the world.

According to the Replacement theory of human existence, Homo Sapiens beat all other human species in the classic story story of survival of the fittest, simply because we are the only one that has the ability to tell stories.

Such is the power of stories that it unites us in a shared narrative and provides us with a shared experience without ever having to meet the people we are sharing it with.

We are all connected to each other through one sort of narrative or another. Some of the most powerful stories in human history is the story of a higher being or religion. Throughout history, we have seen the power of this shared story of beliefs both in good and bad ways. The story of heaven and hell in the afterlife has led people to forego food, sexual desires and even kill others.

People used to have to meet one another to pass on the stories orally. As humanity develops and written language is found, we put our stories down on tree balks, rock tablets, papers, and shared our stories through these mediums. In today’s digital world, sharing stories has never been easier. With a single click of a button, you can share your story with someone on the other side of the globe.

A homeless man in Philadelphia, U.S, gave his last USD 20 to a stranded couple so they can buy gas. The couple was so touched and inspired that they decided to share the story that connects them with this man through a digital platform called GoFundMe. Soon enough, the story connected them with 14,000 more people around the world who then put together over USD 400,000 to get this homeless man off the street.

As we established the power of stories, the next question would be: How do we make our stories stand out and gain the attention of those we are intending?

Every day, we are living through a sea of stories –be it our own stories, stories of those around us, and when we turn to our phones or other blue screens in our lives, stories of billions of others. With the immense size of stories out there, what would draw people to your stories? What do they need to find in your story that would make them want to share it to their circle of friends and families?

First of all, a story needs to fulfill one (or more) of these purposes:
1. Informational
Does your story offer new information that is important to your audience? If so, they may want to share this information to others in their circle that may need the same information.

2. Entertaining
Are you making your audience laugh? Or smile? Or even cry? If your audience can emotionally connect to your story, they are likely to share it with those around them.

3. Enlightening
Are you offering a new perspective on something? Or a fresh look on something seemingly mundane? If your story enlightens your audience, they too would want to enlighten those around them

Better yet, does your story serve more than one of the three main purposes?

Everyone has a story. Thus, everyone is a storyteller by nature. But how to tell your stories to connect with others and for your stories to make an impact on the lives of others, is a craft that needs to be practiced.

So go out and tell your story! Share it with your friends, share it with your family and share it with us too!


Footnote:

[1]Replacement Theory is the opposing view of Interbreeding Theory. According to this theory, Sapiens and other humans had different anatomies, and most likely different mating habits and body odors. Thus, there would be little to no sexual interest to interbreed with other human species.

 

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