Why We Need Stories
As long as humans have existed, they have strived to tell stories.
These days, we read our stories on e-readers and tablets. We used to read them in print books. Before that? Scrolls. Papyrus. Clay tablets. Cave walls. Scratching in the sand. The Epic of Gilgamesh — which follows the adventures of a Sumerian king — is often acknowledged as one of the oldest known stories. It appears over 12 clay tablets.
As long as humans have been in existence, they’ve been finding ways to share stories. Why?
Of course, there are practical reasons. We can learn from stories, which can be used as educational tools. Aesop’s Fables are a compelling example of stories that teach us lessons, morals, and useful life hacks.
But our natural attraction to storytelling goes much deeper. Stories allow us to experience the full range of human emotion. A happy tale can spark oxytocin, leaving us feeling good. A sad narrative can give us a cathartic cry. An exciting story can boost adrenaline, sparking excitement. Even 21st-century readers can get a rush from Odysseus’s journey.
And then there are the characters we experience in stories. People we connect with emotionally, who share our values or espouse our beliefs — or maybe live the lives we want.
Some characters feel so real, we almost believe they could be our best friends. They don’t even have to be human. I desperately wanted to meet Paddington Bear as a child, for one.
Stories are a form of entertainment, yes. But they are more than that. They bring us comfort and, above all, connection — something that all humans crave and need.
I’ll end with this:
I have felt lonely in a room full of people on more than one occasion.
I have never felt lonely when fully immersed in a good story.
Thank you for reading! This is a space where I share personal thoughts — an opportunity for self-expression that has nothing to do with my professional writing. None of the thoughts or opinions expressed in this blog should be construed as anything but my own, nor should they be affiliated with any company or person I contract with or write for.
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