When was the last time you heard a good story? Not from Netflix or on television but from listening to someone’s experience? Let’s face it. We have short attention spans. Who could blame us? We millennials are wrapped up in the reality of our world from graduating and facing crippling student loan debt, to eventually fixing the problems of our nation and determining the future of our world…all while staying afloat in the competitive field of the job market. There is no time for listening…or so we think. As technology becomes smarter and we as people become more curious and eager for more information…we tend to forget how to slow down at times; to reflect about our lives and others.
Recently over the Thanksgiving holiday, Twitter had a trending topic: #ThanksgivingWithBlackFamilies and #ThanksgivingClapBack provided by the many humorous African-Americans of the Twitter user base, affectionately referred to as “Black Twitter.” The trending hashtags presented hilarious, but unique perspectives of thanksgiving dinner with photshopped images of people or celebrities with captions. The success behind these popular hashtags was not only the funny insight of black culture during the holidays, but its power to unify people and tell a story with only an image and a couple of lines of text. This is the modern format of storytelling for our generation. We laugh or we cry because we can relate; we know from the phrase and the image how the story goes because we have experienced it ourselves or can imagine the situation, but most of all we can remember and look back; sharing memories through stories of what Aunt Vern did one Thanksgiving or how you reacted when G-Ma brought out the sweet potato pie.
For those who enjoy these memories, the nostalgic aura that envelops a story and evoke emotion and how unified we feel as a people through storytelling, consider StoryCorps. The organization started in 2003 in Grand Central Terminal in New York. StoryCorps is a nationally acclaimed ongoing collection of stories and events provided from random individuals willing to sit down and talk to a group(s) of strangers to share a memory that is dear to them. Sounds interesting, right? Imagine the variety and spontaneity of Humans of New York mixed with the emotion-filled depth of NPR. This ongoing collection consists of individuals of many different backgrounds sharing memories and stories that can make you laugh, cry, rage, or anything in between. They put you in mind of what the trending hashtags remind you of: sitting around with family and listening to stories (or lies) and learning from them (or not at all).
Do not expect to hear some old professor droning on about his life, but instead brace yourself for truly moving recorded accounts from people of least expected places. Many of the recordings are set up in the form of an interview, one person asking their family member or friend a series of questions while the StoryCorps team records the discussion. Other recordings could be of one person simply dropping by and sharing a tale about themselves or a person they hold dear. These stories capture the feeling you would have of growing up and talking to your grandparents; asking what you felt were important questions in order to figure out who your grandparents were when they were younger, what times were like back then, and how should you face your future as you continue to grow? If you still listen to the radio, StoryCorps can be heard on NPR’s Morning Edition. You can also catch StoryCorps online at www.storycorps.org or on social media outlets such as YouTube where the recorded stories are animated over (which I would highly recommend to start with). For those still hanging on to Facebook, StoryCorps has a page there where you can listen to the podcasts or read the recently recorded stories. As a busy generation, we need to sit back every once and awhile to share stories and listen; we may change for the better by doing so.
By: Ariel Cochran