This interview was conducted by John Pattison for The Ford Family Foundation:
What does the popularity of storytelling programs like The Moth and The Hearth tell us about who we are and the time we’re living in?
We’re living in a time of loneliness. People feel alienated from one another. We have increased our connection to technology but in some ways those technologies have left us feeling more alone. As we get more high-tech, there comes a desire for more “high-touch.”
But it’s rare for us to share physical space anymore. We’re seeing a decline in some of the traditional institutions that used to help build intergenerational relationships—Elks Club and Lions Club, for example, as well as mainstream churches. So there is an increased longing to be connected to other people, because we are social creatures.
We want to be connected, and stories do that. Stories make us more human. They bring us to our senses in a way that other ways of connecting don’t always do. Stories are like a little transportation system. Neuroscientists are discovering that the way your brain processes a story you are telling, stimulates the same part of my brain as I listen to it. When you tell me something scary, my adrenaline goes up. I feel it. In some ways, I can join you in your experience.