I want to tell you a story

Recently, there has been a fashion on social media to ask friends to post pictures without words… usually something along the lines of

“I have been challenged to post one picture of every day for seven days of my *** – no words, no explanations, just pictures. Now I challenge Friend X to do the same”.

Where *** is life/favourite books/pets/influential LPs/black and white photos/most awesome cheese or whatever.

Now, I know that they say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but I disagree. Pictures are great – I always include at least one in my blog posts because they catch the attention and can get across a quick message or illustrate something that’s difficult to describe. But they don’t necessarily get to the heart of the matter. If you post a picture of an influential LP, I always wonder why – was it a particular song? the fact that it represents the sound track to an important era in your life? that you love the artwork on the cover? that you know the musician? And, honestly, I find what you have to say about it much more meaningful than simply seeing a picture.

2020-07-31

A story-telling snail… but unless I explain, you won’t know why

Stories are important. Humans have been telling each other stories for thousands of years – long before we wrote things down. By listening to stories we learn, we develop empathy, we are moved… and we remember. It’s much easier to recall a story than a list of dry facts – and the story may contain all those facts, as well as presenting them in a context that enables understanding. When I was teaching, I often embedded the information I wanted to get across in stories… indeed the Snail of Happiness was born to assist with story-telling in a teaching context.

Our history – personal and on a wider scale – is a series of stories… the word is embedded right there. We can all tell the story of an event and every single person will tell it slightly differently. Your truth is not my truth, and that’s why it is important to listen to each other. And that’s why one person’s hero can be another person’s villain – and generally it’s the winners who get to write the story of what happened (and erect the statues). I think it’s very important to remember this and to understand that the truth depends very much on the story-teller. This link is really worth following for a sensible perspective on the truth of history.

So, next time someone suggests that you post a picture without an explanation – resist! Yes, post the picture, but tell your friends why. Share your history, because unless you do, someone else might write it for you.

-oOo-

I was inspired to write this post by my friend Chiqui – thank you Chiqui, I enjoyed your pictures with explanations so much more than all those without context.

 

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21 Comments

  1. A picture might tell a thousand words, but without context, they’re just words. Our stories are what make us.

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  2. Those posts annoy me too – maybe that’s why I’ve never been invited to participate.

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  3. I totally agree! I tend to ignore these posts and have never been tempted to play along, though I have been nominated several times.

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  4. As a wordy, nerdy woman, I wholeheartedly concur.

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  5. Wise words indeed. We should respect each others narratives and keep them all. Both pictures and words together help us to have a fuller perspective of history

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  6. Stories are so important. I remember how I loved to listen to my Nana tell the family stories. Do we still have those storytellers now?

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    • I think there has been a bit of a resurgence in story-telling – I have encountered a few performers at events in recent years. Still, I don’t think it’s a skill that’s valued enough.

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  7. Interesting because although I like to have words, sometimes the picture actually portrays far more – especially from an artist’s point of view. You look at a photo, and maybe or not read the words, and you think “no that’s not xyz” rather it evokes a memory of your own that reminds you how much you loved “a red umbrella for vastly different reasons to the one written about there”…

    of course in earlier history, many of the ordinary citizens couldn’t read or write so story telling with pictures/actions were the way to portray what was needed. Folk tales and songs are another way…

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    • I think there’s a place for both and I do prefer to read a piece that is also illustrated in some way. Art – for art’s sake – is a bit different and generally doesn’t need accompanying works, although they can make it a richer experience.

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  8. I earned my keep by listening to stories, trying to make sense of them, spotting what was not being said, the gaps in which lay the missing key to making sense and moving on. For me pictures illustrate stories or evoke memories. They can therefore be the trigger for a story but I need the words too.

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  9. I can’t stand knowing that a book I like (or loathe!) is someone else’s favourite and not knowing the story of why. I’ve refused to do these games for exactly this reason.

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    • It’s weird isn’t it? I don’t understand the point of posting things without an explanation… they gain nothing from posting and I gain nothing from seeing the book/art/whatever… I just want to scream WHY? So, instead I flick was and pay no attention.

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