The danger of a single story

Having a single story about something is a better way of saying being closeminded. The woman giving the TED Talk linked above had a roomate with a single story about Africa. Donald Trump has a single story about immigration. Some people have a single story about same sex marriages. Others have a single story about police brutality. I have a single story about glazed donuts; they are really good.

A single story mindset is natural though. Our parents raise us, we usually seek out friends who are like minded, and we don’t really spend a lot of time outside of those tight circles. It’s not hard to see why we have single stories. That doesn’t give us an excuse, though, to not seek out the rest of the story.

The problem with single stories is they are short sided, biased, and usually wrong. For example, not all immigrants are rapists, same sex marriages aren’t the beginning of the end, and even the police do some good sometimes. Also, not all glazed donuts are created equal.

Two things to take away from this video:

  1. Be wary of single stories. Because we can’t spend time with everyone from every culture, single stories are our natural way of understanding the world. When you hear something that sounds like a single story, understand there’s probably more to the story and it’s your responsibility to find it.
  2. The longer you are living with a single story about something, the harder it is to see the rest of the story. Don’t let yourself fall into complacency when it comes to how you treat fellow humans. It’s easy to do, it’s natural, but our civilized way of living is at stake. How many conflicts could be prevented or resolved by understanding that there are no single stories?

Living with single stories is a breeding ground for racism, bigotry, close mindedness, and all kinds of other pervasive issues. Need some examples of single stories? Read Yelp reviews. Yelp reviews are almost always single stories of an entity based on one isolated expierience. Plus they are entertaining.

The first question I think we need to ask is, what single stories are we believing and retelling?

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