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Anthropology: The Purpose of Storytelling

Why Do We Tell Stories?

Were it not for stories, humans on planet Earth would have trouble finding any kind of common ground whatsoever. We find common ground based on our countries, our stories, our life experiences and our pain, even if we do not have anything in common at all.

National Geographic writes that the purpose of storytelling is “Storytelling is universal and is as ancient as humankind. Before there was writing, there was storytelling. It occurs in every culture and at every age. It exists (and existed) to entertain, to inform, and to promulgate cultural traditions and values.” (“Storytelling and Cultural Traditions | National Geographic Society”) Stories tell us who we are, along with where we’ve been. Myths teach us morality and what not to do via oral storytelling.  National Geographic writes that “the oral tradition can take many forms, including epic poems, chants, rhymes, songs, and more. Not all of these stories are historically accurate or even true. Truth is less important than providing cultural cohesion. It can encompass myths, legends, fables, religion, prayers, proverbs, and instructions.” Stories like myths do not have to be true to be entertaining. Storytelling is a huge part of human culture because we need it like breathing.

The Stories About Social Networking

Storytelling traditions are something that some groups, like First Nations peoples, try to continue doing as part of oral traditions. But in modern times, we are losing the ability to have conversations thanks to the Internet. Social networking robs us of many things, but it is another way to build common ground with people a person may not always have common ground with.

Storytelling as Myth or Maybe Not

What is common ground? Common ground could be a myth. The truth is that even twins have something different between them despite sharing a womb. Everybody on this planet is a unique person, no matter how many artificial things we have in common with each other. Just because an individual has the same racial background is no guarantee they will get along. What makes people like each other is a situation that nobody can quite put their finger on. Sometimes it is, in fact, common ground.

Anthropology Helps Us All Find Common Ground

The sensation of “Like” is fostered in something two people have in common with each other. They share emotional things together. A person likes someone else based on liking the same singer or having the same racial background. In order to socialize right with people who are different, a person has to figure out a way to talk to someone based on what they have in common.  Television serves as a common-ground builder also.  Some people pretty much struggle with finding something they can share with the person they are talking to in the context of being the customer of a certain store.

https://time.com/135945/make-people-like-you/

Like Vs. Like

The above article leaves readers thinking that being likable is being genuine, in suggestion #3 to give your time gratis. “A no-strings-attached approach to helping others also makes you more likable. (“10 Simple Ways to Make People Like You More | Time”) Think of the person you like the most–usually, it’s someone who will help you with the copier machine or is willing to read through your business proposal in a pinch. Of course, those who help just to be liked always reveal a manipulative trait, so make sure you’re genuine.” (“10 Simple Ways to Make People Like You More | Time”)  In the end, liking someone is what high school everywhere is truly about besides getting your general education done.

Finding some common ground with someone can arise over jokes too, while the “like factor” is all about going with the flow and adjusting to any demand made, since some people will go to any restaurant because of this situation. This Time Magazine article just told the story of how to be liked by others, because storytelling is a way of conveying information.

Immigration and The Stories of Immigration

In a society such as the United States or Canada where immigration has influenced the majority of people who came from somewhere else anyway, somehow common ground has to exist. Storytelling and especially television, helps us connect to each other, as the National Geographic article gets at this fact of what telling stories does.

If Stories Were Banned

If we cannot tell stories, we have no way of making sense of our experiences. A writer writes for the sake of making sense of things cropping up in their heads.  Writers write fiction to entertain but also to put their shattered brains back together somehow. Life experience makes up the background of a good story, any story. Real life often helps put together the details described in a story. Writing is not the only way to tell a story, besides using words, but rather, art can also tell a visual story.

Stories and Conversation

Stories help us connect with each other, as small talk does make up the backbone of how to relate to someone else verbally. We tell each other stories to understand what is going on inside someone else’s head. Without stories, we would not be able to talk to each other. Conversation is made up of many stories that we tell each other so we can relate to each other’s many differences. Stories are the way the human race communicate with each other, because without stories we would be lost.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/trauma

Storytelling and Trauma

Storytelling is one way to deal with trauma. It helps a person process a new event in their lives. “You would not believe what just happened,” etc.  It takes guts to write a story or tell a story or for that matter, to tell the truth. Creativity at the level of short story writing sometimes makes others uncomfortable. You’ve got to tell a story all the time. It is human instinct, the nature of our species.

Stories In Modern Times

With the current mess the world is today, news is another way to get a story into our heads about what is going on. The Russians are advancing in Ukraine. Art gets taken down, put away and protected as much as possible. Russia balks under heavy sanctions because this story is one way to get them to listen. See? I just told a story right there.

Human Talent in Storytelling

Telling stories is something that comes naturally to us. What if we weren’t allowed to tell stories all of a sudden? That would kill us.

Stories come to humans as natural as breathing. We like putting our words on the computer, on Word or Open Office. We need word processing programs to write letters.  The news is about events happening like the gas prices in California being at $5.75 or higher.  This story in the San Jose Mercury News is all about how high gas prices are due to the situation in Ukraine.

California gas prices reach $5.75 a gallon Tuesday but falling oil prices could mean cheaper fuel in the weeks ahead

 

Stories are about major events in life. It is a fundamental value on this planet to tell stories.  We tell stories well, at any rate. It is a talent, a gift, and a necessity.  Non-neurotypical folk tell stories differently too. We are not always linear about it. But linear storytelling is valued. Good storytellers are hard to come by these days. Some people have given up on genuine connections.

The Right Way to Tell a Story

Storytelling is something as natural as breathing. To tell a story in a linear way, you have to do something right in the story. Stories are structured with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Every human culture or tribal group tells them, so the structure is similar around the world. Stories tell us where we have been and where we are going. They help us analyze what we want out of life. Stories help piece together something good for us.

The Lost Stories

The art of storytelling is sometimes getting lost. Civilization still exists intact for now even if Russia is shelling Ukraine. What would happen if civilization ended? The unthinkable could happen but the world is trying to fight this. Stories help us piece together events as they unfold, and it is a way people have of processing the event itself.

https://www.yoair.com/blog/the-wonderous-origins-of-ukraine-a-captivating-eastern-european-gem/

Stories and Trauma Which Could be Caused by Stories

Stories help process trauma. To have a story trapped in your head means more trauma is unfolding. Stories provide a release mechanism in the physical body that relieves you of the sensation of trauma. A story can do wonders for releasing the actual memory. Stories help people remember the major event that is turned into a story. Trauma is life-altering for many survivors. Stories help us deal with the effects of trauma.

https://www.yoair.com/blog/tag/short-stories/#google_vignette

Negative Purposes for Storytelling

A story is something that has a beginning, middle and end, although depending on the neurological state of the teller, the story is something that may jump around from place to place. Sometimes a story could be a huge lie. A narcissist can talk about their victim. Gossip is a form of lying and emotional bullying that can spread in a community surrounding a victim. The person spreading the rumors is doing this on purpose to make someone feel less than they are. They are trying to psychologically abuse and control another person.

https://www.yoair.com/blog/mythological-stories-from-ancient-mesopotamia-the-cradle-of-civilization/

If the victim doesn’t change their schedule on account of storytelling, they overcome the way a bully was trying to control them. Stories telling the truth are good stories. Often, film and television stories cover the way someone overcame a sociopath trying to lie about them. Storytelling grounds us in present reality although a story can be about the past or the present. Storytelling is a way people have of making sense of reality.

Stories make the world go round because of the way humans need to tell them. Without our news as a source for how things are happening, or what is going on in the world, we’d be helpless. Knowledge is conveyed in story form only because of what people are doing in that tale. The media is an endless source of stories, but they lie a lot when it comes to some public figures. Or so the public figures say but then again, are they telling the truth and manipulating the media with their own story?

Sometimes a story can be a lie. If you say all stories are lies, you are a cynic as all stories are true to who is telling the story. Stories are often a lie if you think of it this way, sure. But could a story be partly true if your imagination is making it such? Fiction is an art. Fiction lends to familiarity. Children feel safe with the same story told to them. Stories are all about how to overcome a bad guy in addition to giving a feeling of familiarity about how this is done. Stories are a teaching tool often enough, about various social problems being resolved.

A story does serve as an escape. Storytelling is a human tradition. Were it not for stories, we could not process drama or trauma for that matter. The Bible and other religious scriptures are stories with a plot centered on overcoming a challenge. The character has to beat other people trying to bring them down.  In film and television writing, this is also a central theme in the plot. Storytelling is all about overcoming a huge problem to become happy. Or reach a realized dream. Self-actualization is all about becoming what you want to become after all. Stories help us come to a realization about what we want out of life. We learn to strive for things.

Stories as Guideposts

Without stories as a psychological help inducing a sort of device, we would be helpless. Stories help the brain process information or trauma after all. A story is something that helps us communicate. Story-telling traditions around the world are very similar. They help out quite a bit. Stories help us figure out our lives, where we were in the past and where we are headed in the future. This is why science fiction is so popular. It tells us as a species where we are going. Stories help us process major events and in journalism they tell us what happened on a particular day in history as a part of civilization. Stories orient us in time and space when it comes to newspapers. The tabloid media is receiving a bad rap for lying. If stories are lies, then the tabloids definitely represent this aspect of the human condition.

Where Stories Are Found

Stories are truly everywhere. You cannot ban them completely, which is why countries that do not have freedom of speech try to practice censorship.  The human race needs our stories to get ourselves to sleep at night, as this is how we get our children to bed. Stories tell us where we’ve been and where we are going. An article is a story, a book is a story, and other pieces are stories. Writers focus on writing a story because it is simply a way of communicating. We like our tales. Many of us have stories about our experiences. However, there are some people born without imaginations who do not know how to tell a good story.

Stories as Mechanisms for Living

Our stories keep us alive. Without having them in our lives, we’d be terribly depressed as a species if somebody came in to make telling stories illegal. Stories are the way we talk to therapists, or other authority figures. A story is something we do to tell someone else our experience. Experience makes up stories in general.  We as human organisms need to tell stories to live. As we live and breathe, we need our storytelling for our sanity. We’ve got to maintain our emotional equilibrium by telling our stories.  If we don’t have stories, we do not communicate whatever communication issues we have with each other.

Anthropology: Ghost Stories and Folktales as Cultural and Historical Indexes

https://ihworld.com/ih-journal/issues/issue-43/why-storytelling-is-important/#:~:text=Storytelling%20brings%20language%20learning%20alive,awareness%20of%20rhythm%20and%20structure.

Storytelling traditions around the world vary.  Humans like their stories, and storytelling brings language alive.  That is one overreaching purpose to tell stories. This is because people want to share experience as a teaching tool. Stories are a human’s number one means of communicating. Human cultures without stories do not exist. A story is a way of conveying to other people what the teller went through. Every post on Facebook is a story. Journalism functions on various ways of storytelling. Stories make the human world go around.  It is the way we are as people, storytellers. Stories exist for a reason and without an ability to tell them, we would be lost.

True Snake Stories from the African Bushveld – Tales from My Childhood

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