One of my favorite things about a story, and art in general, is its ability to unify people. Here’s what I mean. When we experience a story, we come to it from different places – sometimes vastly different places. We have different backgrounds, different experiences, different perspectives, and perhaps even different values. When we walk into a movie theater, a concert venue, or an art gallery, our paths to get there were distinct from each other.
But what happens when we get there? Our focus is not on our differences. In these situations, we’re usually not spending time eyeing one another with suspicion, or arguing, or trying to look superior. Because our focus is on something else entirely. It’s on the movie, the music, or the paintings. More importantly, it’s on the same movie. The same music. The same paintings. Yes, this is a moment not to stare at each other, but to stare together at something singular, something special, something beautiful. Up to that moment, our stories were different. But in that moment, we experience the same story together. We are united.
This shared experience doesn’t take away our differences, or remove our uniqueness. When the moment ends, we are still distinct people. But by having lifted our eyes upward together, we are connected. Maybe we were moved by the same sad story, and felt empathy for a person or group.
Maybe we admired the same beautiful brushstrokes, and gained a new appreciation for an artist or art form. Maybe we just loved the same song. But what we learned, we learned together, and what we felt, we felt together. Even if we used to be strangers.
Given that we’re just now emerging from a year-long pandemic, these sentiments might feel out of place. After all, most of us haven’t been spending time in crowded theaters recently. But these same principles can apply to the smaller moments we share every day. Even families and friend groups are made up of distinct people, and experiencing stories with even one other person in your life is just as powerful and just as important as doing that in a crowded theater.
So next time you experience a story, regardless of its form, think about how you might be able to share it alongside someone else. Books can be read aloud (I love doing that with fiction in particular). You can play an audiobook in the car for the whole family to hear. You can open the YouTube app on your TV and play a funny ad.
Or you can play your favorite new song on the living room speaker instead of just your headphones. If someone is willing to share that moment with you, the experience is more meaningful, more memorable, and usually more fun, too.
At Steven James, sharing stories is what we do. We listen to clients’ stories together, collaborate on copy, create and watch video ads together, and ultimately create things that clients’ customers will want to share. We all bring our different strengths together and focus them in the same direction. So next time you want to tell a story… let’s do it together.