Human beings have come to dominate the planet through their unique ability to tell and spread stories. Everything we think and know comes from our made-up stories, our world of imagination. These stories may be true or false, good or bad, scientifically-based or not, it doesn’t matter. What counts is that we hear them and believe them. In prehistoric time, we told our stories directly to one another within tribes that numbered no more than about 200 people. As our groups increased in size, it was impossible to talk to everyone in person. We had to depend on others to tell our stories for us. We love stories. At an early age, mommy tell me a story. Mommy read me story. Later, we learned to read them for ourselves.
With technology and the social media, telling stories these days is easy. The hard part is getting the message out, standing apart from the crowd. How can we do this? For starters, we can select and support opinion leaders who tell the stories that we want to hear. Opinion leaders are individuals who influence lots of people –politicians, corporate executives, news commentators, political activists, religious leaders, writers and artists. We can also spread our stories by being unconventional, like the videos that go viral on YouTube, and meeting the needs of others. With empathy and compassion, the foundation of most religions, we become more aware of the needs of other people, their problems and possible resolutions, reasons why for example, education, health care and infrastructure are popular topics.
Most of us play multiple roles: husband-wife, father-daughter, teacher-student, boss-employee, and short-term relationships like a cashier in a grocery store checking out a customer. We are telling stories all the time. On an individual level, our stories may not be terribly influential, but collectively, we can change the world—hopefully for the better. With technology and the social media, we can take storytelling to a new level reaching millions and even billions of people worldwide.