The difference between conversation and narrative is representative of the difference between people’s interests and identities.
When people identify with some “thing” — when they feel something is part of them —
the brain’s medial prefrontal cortex is activated, a brain region involved with self-definition…
In contrast, when a person simply feels interested in the attributes of a product presented, the brain region known as the putamen lights up.
This experience is rewarding, but not self-involving. The object remains external.
We humans crave the satisfaction that comes when our identities are understood.
by Bob Deutsch, “For Success in Social Media, Conversation Is Not Enough — You Need Narrative”
This excerpt by a cognitive anthropologist and marketing consultant points to the sheer physicality behind a concept I studied years ago. It only solidifies the truth that I’ve seen in my life and in those around me. When I was an undergraduate student, I loved my philosophy course on epistemology with Dr. Meek in which we discussed the innate longing to know and be known. Now, as a professional, I understand the value of a narrative approach to writing that engages the human desire for identity and relationship.
It’s Story Time
Throughout the entire New England College program, the curriculum has focused on making target audiences a priority. It’s true: the essence of a written piece is to connect with readers and clearly convey a message. But does it just end there? In a way, writers contribute to a greater conversation that’s always occurring. To do so effectively, I must intentionally address the current buzz, assess the very essence of my readers, and place value on what they have to say while meeting deep-seated needs. That’s why it’s so crucial to know what an audience wants, lest I unwittingly throw text into the void.
My work this week has been centered around the idea of storytelling. Story removes the potential for one-sided dialogue, especially in our digital age. Story invites readers to linger for a while, instead of assuming they’ll click away. Story promises a worthwhile journey for readers, rather than just preaching at them… I’m in the process of composing multiple stories to wrap up the program: a digital narrative that uses audio to reflect upon writing and individual narratives for my thesis project that represent interviews. Both exercises are challenging yet will surely reflect and reach others in powerful ways.
Hi, I’m a Writer
It has become apparent to me that I must figure out my identity as a writer before I can interact well with others. I’ve learned a lot about my personal style and professional goals since starting toward a master’s in 2013. However, I am keenly aware that my learning won’t be over upon graduation next month. There are many wonderful tools at my disposal that will continue to shed light on who I am and how I relate with readers. Everyone has obvious strengths and weaknesses. Everyone has something to say and something to gain from engagement. Everyone has a story to tell — and we have a lot to talk about!
— Tesni Freed (@TesniFreed) December 22, 2014