Often when we think of storytelling, we picture a parent reading to their child before bedtime, or campers huddled up around a fire sharing scary stories. However, storytelling occurs all around us in the form of entertainment and education. It has been widely used since the beginning of time, and universally across cultures. Storytelling is an extremely effective tool to communicate, and it is part of what makes us human. Stories help us to understand the world around us, our history, and ourselves.
In early times, stories were told to entertain, share history and spiritual knowledge, and to teach people to be all that they can be. From empowering hunters by drawing predators on a cave wall to sharing stories around a fire to connect with loved ones, storytelling has helped people achieve their goals in many different ways. For example, indigenous cultures in North America told stories about treating the earth as a home with living things that challenge the youth to become a part of the larger circle of life. These stories involved more than just humans, but also plants, wildlife, water, thunder, wind, and the sun.
As time passed, people began to tell stories through the written word. The first evidence of writing came about around 9,000 years ago in the form of symbols transcribed in clay to record land, grain, or cattle. Long after, the introduction of the printing press made stories more readily available to everyone and increased literacy among laypeople.
The rise of technology has opened up many new ways to share stories and communicate. The creation of photographs, movies, telephones, radios, television, and social media has changed the way we interact with one another. Technology allows us not only to share stories with those who are with us but with people living all across the globe. Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter allow people to share their thoughts and lived experiences with their friends and family, or everyone on the internet if they choose to. Social media has been used to share stories that draw attention to important issues that exist around the world today. For example, 34-year old Anna Harding ran a marathon in her backyard and shared it on social media to raise money for the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
Storytelling is a powerful communication tool that has been used by humans since the dawn of time and will continue to be used for generations to come. Our ability to communicate with one another and share stories is what separates us from our primate ancestors. At TaleTeller, we invite you to participate in this long-lived human tradition and tell your story—so your great-grandchildren can learn about your life experiences.