Why we need stories

Stories have always been an important part of our lives. Not only can they be entertaining, but we learn important life lessons from them. Illustration by Sarah Chantres/The Daily Campus

Humans are storytellers. It is our nature to make up stories, to interpret everything we perceive.

Don Miguel Luiz (writer)

Stories are an essential part of our lives; we cannot live without them. Ever since we begin to understand language and communication, we listen to stories from our parents and teachers. The stories are not just for entertainment, as they all have important life lessons, such as being nice to others and not giving up on our dreams and hopes. However, soon we move on to more complicated stories; we soon find stories with a twist and turn as the main character’s loyal supporter stabs their back towards the climax and the evil one turns out to be good after all. We look for stories that are provocative, stories that stimulate our desires. Eventually, the twists and turns turn out to be cliché and most of the stories follow the same story plot after all. After a long search for good stories, we lose hope of finding something unique. Something that can give us the same shock we had when we were less exposed to books and television.   

Of course, I have enjoyed many books and television series for the past few years. Those stories have affected me in every way, and I still think about how they made me feel emotionally. Unfortunately, out of 100 movies, television series and books combined, I would not finish 90 of them. I would quickly lose interest in the first 10 minutes, the first episodes and the first couple of chapters. It is clear who will fall in love with the main character, when the characters will have a conflict, who is the killer and more. This was not because I have a professional eye for what is a good story or not. It’s not because I am very picky and definitely not because I have a unique taste that no one else has. It was because I was addicted to media content that stimulate stronger emotions.   

Each day it seems like our attention span gets shorter and shorter; you can tell that from what the most popular media source is these days. When we thought that YouTube was the most addictive and dangerous information source 10 years ago, many of the younger generations already found an alternative that is stronger and shorter (TikTok, YouTube Shorts, Instagram reels, etc.). Many are already making stories out of these platforms and people don’t really think it’s a waste of time. If it was a good story, the 30 seconds were worth it, and if it was not, it’s okay — after all, it was only a few seconds long. Or is it? The average time people spend on Instagram reels[SG1]  and TikTok is each 53 minutes and 45 minutes, respectively, which makes almost 100 minutes in total. This time could be used to read a novel or watch a movie. Sadly, the fear of wasting our time on longer content, like a book or a movie, with an unsatisfying storyline keeps us away from finding a diamond in the rough. At least that is how I feel recently.    

As I said, we are already exposed to a million clichés and patterns of what makes a good, popular story. However, there is a reason why through each generation, they still survive to this day and are praised and loved by many people. Plus, even if they follow the same patterns, we can try to find the uniqueness of these stories. The literary style, how the writer and director capture the scene, and all the little details make the story colorful and meaningful to us. By looking through this kind of perspective, I realized again that all stories can’t just be a form of thrill and excitement. It is more like a clump of how much we can grasp the feelings and the artwork the writer put into the story. And if we still don’t get those feelings with a particular story, it might not just be for you, and there is always time to look for another one. What’s important is to never stop looking for a good story that we can’t wait to finish.  

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