The Eternal Power of Stories

Before our species learned to write, we were telling each other stories. A compelling storyteller was a local celebrity for the entertainment they provided. Stories were told to share (and embellish) a group’s shared history. Fables were created to impart lessons on proper societal behavior. The mythology of the gods was a tool to help explain the inexplicable nature of the natural world and our place within it.

While stories help us share experiences and better understand their meaning, their greatest value has been as entertainment. Our creative minds that themselves weave fantastic narratives as we sleep are always ready to depart our often grueling reality and escape to some other place for a few moments.

Over the millennia, stories merely spoken evolved into narration and expressive movement. Pictures were drawn in the sand or on cave walls to illustrate articulated content better. Music might be used to heighten suspense, while rhythmic dance added yet another visual element.

Eventually, as certain stories gained popularity, the listeners joined the performance reciting favorite lines much like the crowd at those midnight showings of “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” The stories became plays. The illustrations became pictographs which morphed into writing. The writings eventually became books. The best plays were brought to ever larger audiences. 

Then, someone found a way to record them and share them widely. Now, you stream them into your home and call them movies or television shows. Yet, they remain what they have always been, stories.

Through all of that innovation and change, we still enjoy having a great story read to us. We buy more than 100 million audiobooks every year. Thanks to podcasts, we can now listen to great stories for free. And that demand is exploding. According to a recent CBS news poll, 41% of Americans listened to podcasts in 2017. In just one year that number soared to 65%. 

Ten thousand years ago, hearing a well-told tale was a rare occurrence. Today, you can revel in compelling stories in more ways than our ancestors could have ever imagined. Enjoy your choices and our shared stories.

Don McDonaldComment