Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Why Do People Have To Tell Stories?

I'm not an anthropologist, and I haven’t read widely on the subject…but there seems to be a fundamental human need to have stories. This is in every culture worldwide, ranging from myths (deeply meaningful religious stories about Life, the Universe, and Everything) to soap operas (somewhat less meaningful stories about life, sex, and everything) to comic strips (ditto).


If you think about it, we could exist perfectly well without stories; we could still eat, sleep, have sex, even if we never heard or told another story. Sure, stories serve various social functions—one function of myth, for example, is to give social cohesion to a group, I believe—but then a wolf pack reinforces its social cohesion by howling at night, no stories required. So why do humans do it with story? Why do we do so many things—entertainment, education, and on and on—through story?

We even tend to edit our experiences selectively—on an individual level, our memories, and collectively, our history—so that they make a tidy story.

Why not accept the chaotic mess as it is, rather than try to impose some narrative order?

If we were ever to meet intelligent aliens, do you think they’d also tell stories? For the same reasons we do?

Template by - Abdul Munir | Daya Earth Blogger Template