Sometimes it’s difficult for people to understand the ubiquitous nature of stories. Why do we like them so much and why are there so may similar stories across the world? When you look at the development of language, it is very cultural and distinct in different regions of the world. Language is a learnt experience. Story on the other hand at its basic level seems to be an instinctual process and fundamental part of human communication. It seems that some stories are in our DNA, they are nature and not a result of our nurturing behaviour.
The key to understanding why stories are this powerful comes from looking at the way humans developed emotion. Many scientists believe emotions are a learnt, nurtured behaviour, but other research shows that we are born with the ability to communicate through emotions and that we are also born with the capacity to understand them in others too. Babies born blind make the same expression of emotion as sighted children and tribes of people in the Amazon basin can distinguish the same emotions in a photograph of Americans as the Americans can of the Fore people of the Amazon.
Our common ancestral heritage of understanding binds us together in a way that words do not. In some ways, that explains why metaphors, the meaning behind the phrase, are also universal. Metaphors create emotions in the recipient, and it’s these emotions that are recognised and give it meaning. Stories in the same way as a metaphor only work when conveying meaning through emotion. So it’s not surprising that all cultures understand basic stories that represent these feelings.
So we may read or see stories, and we may talk about storytelling but what we are doing is getting people to feel the story.