How is Culture Defined through Storytelling?
Storytelling is the act of employing language as well as gestures in colorful manner to create scenes [usually] in a correct order. In addition, storytelling is the compelling technique of sharing experiences to make logic of humanity at any opportune moment. On a daily basis, communication involves speaking, listening as well as acting in response to stories told by others. Storytelling has always been in existence throughout history. Through storytelling, one can define different cultures in numerous ways (Celi & Boiero 58).
The eventual shaping of human behavior is to be found in the stories we are told from infancy, childhood through adulthood and even old age. This implies that a child is born into a culture in which stories begin to develop his or her sense of self, their sense of life, the world and society. In other words, culture can be said to be stories and messages that constitute images that eventually influence our conception of both life and our behavior. When all these kinds of stories are neatly woven together into a rather invisible, they constitute culture of an individual and society.
In the past, stories used to be told through paintings on walls. Through these wall paints, a person could relate to the societal culture, ideas, and beliefs more effectively than any other ways. Nowadays, storytelling is more advanced, as it is more digitalized and less verbal [face to face]. The current culture in 21st century can be defined as a technological (digital) culture. In this modern culture, established in technology, storytelling in a digital form has the potential of becoming an incredibly effective tool in the various sectors such as education, entertainment, and journalism (Bruchac 23). The introduction of the printing press revolutionized the way society told its stories and defined its culture. The printing press brought about the industrialization of storytelling. However, the electronic revolution (especially television) has had the most significant impact on storytelling and culture. Today, children are born into a cultural environment where television runs more than seven hours per day, averagely. As such, most values and stories are communicated to children through television and not by their parents, teachers, or religious leaders. Television has thus brought about major transformation not only in the way the stories are told, but also in the manner that people socialized and increasingly identify themselves.
In verbal cultures, storytelling remains and preserves its traditions. It takes a listener on a journey of people’s lives, a mutual survival theme in indigenous rituals and ceremonies (Celi & Boiero 66). Those from the older generations pass on the stories which they were told as they grew up by previous generations. Consequently, storytelling connects the new generation with the past generations. This serves as a technique against disappearance of a culture. Consequently, the stories told can continue to portray the culture and cultural practices of such societies. For instance, storytelling in the Native American culture has revealed passion for entertainment. (Harjo & Leen 45).
The history in the American culture, in traditional objective, has become a narrative model for news writing. In journalism, there are rules and guidelines that perform the role of informing and not connecting the senses of the reader. In their line of duty, journalists are not required to show any emotions. News casting is another form of storytelling. Through this, the culture of journalism is defined as a non-emotional one. News is also meant to bring sensation. “That is another form of culture displayed in journalism illustrated by storytelling.” (Bird and Dardenne 56).
In 1977, Marmon Silko published a novel titled ''Ceremony'' that signified the introduction of a new literature form by ethnic writers. Stories have never been declining items from a part of an ethnic culture but a breathing, active, continuously growing technique. These ethnic authors write narratives that define their culture. In the various wars, many people are said to have perished. However, there are those who survived the battle just to tell the story of events that occurred during those wars. Through one of the veteran’s story, it becomes clear that people were not living in harmony with their neighbors and had various confrontations. By the use of a narrative like this, the history and the culture of the society can be defined. (Cuter 6)
The act of storytelling is closely related to history making. Most historical facts are always narrated in stories. As mentioned earlier, storytelling provides an incredibly essential tool in defining the culture of a society. A number of narratives focus on individual societies and their cultural practices. Through such narratives, one can clearly define the customs of the involved society, for instance, the culture of journalism was defined by reading about journalism.
In conclusion, storytelling affords people an ocean of opportunities to develop culturally defined identities as well as themes either through self-presentation and alter-casting. Through storytelling, individuals and groups are able to clarify their own perspectives and values.