Why do people like to tell stories?
I'm not wondering so much why people like to write short stories and novels, or why people like to read stories, or listen to them.
I'm wondering why people like to tell stories.
Stories get told all day long, usually verbally. Often the style isn't any more sophisticated than "So she was like, and I was all like…"
What makes people want to recount their adventures to each other so relentlessly? Some blame Twitter, Facebook and similar channels for the spread of the banal "Had a yogurt, walked the dog," but without the Internet, people would still be relating minor incidents to others - over the telephone, in person, or in old fashioned letters.
Maybe we enjoy the experience of recounting an event partly because we can relive the emotions that went with it, and get some validation for those feelings. Surprised that someone bought you a great gift? Tell a story about it. Think someone was rude and you feel indignant? Tell a story. Got into an argument? Tell a story. Feel that someone else didn't pull his or her weight? Tell a story.
As curious as I am about human nature, and as much as every story I've ever heard has taught me more about the way people think and act, I also find that as I get older, I'm less patient with people's stories. Instead of finding them charming or intriguing, I'm more often thinking the storyteller is being self-indulgent, self-pitying, narcissistic, or just plain boring.
And that I'm getting older and crabbier.
But sometimes people just need to be heard. They may not tell the story with the idea of seeking advice, or even sympathy, but just to know they're heard. That they're not all alone with the event. That someone is listening, that they exist, that their existence means something.