Every one of us has a story we tell ourselves. Sometimes it’s the same one we tell others. Other times, it’s a slightly altered one. Or maybe even a different one. There are times when we even believe the story we tell others. There are some stories we believe ourselves.
Sometimes we don’t like the stories we tell ourselves. We talk to friends, who might help us see the story in a different light. Sometimes we believe them & change. Other times we stop talking to them.
“That girl I really hit it off with at the party won’t talk to me”. “Mate, she gave you her number and asked you to call her. Then you got piss drunk & ….”.
“I never seem to be considered for a promotion, even though my boss knows how much I am willing to take up the opportunity. I think ‘they’ hate me so much as to sabotage every opportunity that comes my way.” “You didn’t even apply for the job.”
Other times, we need professional help.
Sometimes we can afford this help, sometimes not.
In either case, we tell ourselves a story about why it is so.
Some are great story tellers. We listen in rapt attention to their stories. In pubs, restaurants, coffee shops, sometimes even on public transport, you can see this play out every day. Stop whatever it is you’re doing, take off your headphones & listen to the conversations going on around you. And if you’re alone, go back to the story you were telling yourself. These stories are rich in detail.
We all have friends who bend the truth while they tell their story. We know it because we were there in the situation they are describing, & It’s not exactly how we saw it. “Correcting facts in this moment is not appropriate, everyone’s having a great time” is the story we tell ourselves. Other times we do, & results in an argument, lost friendships, & sometimes tragically loss of life or limb.
Then sometimes we believe our own stories. We live our entire lives that way. Sometimes we find out the truth. & we are unshackled. Other times, it destroys everything. See the newspapers for examples. Actually, don’t ever read the newspapers.
We sometimes write our stories & publish them. We categorise it – fiction, biographies, autobiographies. They’re all versions of the truth.
Job descriptions these days. Regardless of your career, “story-telling is a key skill” is the story that is told around the world. There are thousands of courses that claim to teach us how to story-tell with data.
What’s your story?
Benjamin Percy (author of the werewolf thriller Red Moon) takes the sweet children’s bedtime story, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, and turns it into a story that will keep kids (and maybe adults) awake for days on end
Grandfather. Father. Son. Three men. And the act that binds them all together.
The only thing better than a story-teller Bob Fulghum is a reminiscing Bob Fulghum. He shared this letter he wrote from decades ago, titled Benediction.
Prof. Jay Rosen’s cover story in the American Review about the limits of investigative journalism tries to explain why some stories take on a life of their own & become purveyors of change, while others languish in the dark before dying prematurely. Worth a read.
[for the visually inclined]
David Byrne reminds that the medium is not the message – the message is the message:
One would hope that we could educate ourselves to be able to spot the evil infographics that are being used to manipulate us, or that are being used to hide important patterns and information. Ideally, an educated consumer of infographics might develop some sort of infographic bullshit detector that would beep when told how the trickle-down economic effect justifies fracking, for example. It’s not easy, as one can be seduced relatively easily by colors, diagrams and funny writing.
An awesome story from Graham Nash about his ‘strange’ friend, Neil Young.
He asked me if I wanted to hear his new album, “Harvest.” And I said sure, let’s go into the studio and listen. Oh, no. That’s not what Neil had in mind. He said get into the rowboat. I said get into the rowboat? He said, yeah, we’re going to go out into the middle of the lake.
I read this story out at our Toastmasters meeting yesterday, because it was so well written. The writing prompt was “Wife kills husband. Make me sympathize with both characters”. And this is the author acknowledging the praise he received for his writing:
In response to a lot of your questions, I’m not a writer, just a jackass with some free time. I’m still in college and trying to figure out what the fuck to do with my life. I’m really glad that a website like reddit exists where I can practice my writing and learn from some really bright people around the world.
Dean Zimmer is a handi-capable drummer living in Southern California.