To be specific, I’m a little worried about technology.
Forgive me for indulging in a moment of cultural angst, but I’m fairly freaked out by the notion that the more we plug in to our screens and devices, the less we’ll tune in to our relationships, sense of empathy, and higher consciousness. The more we are distracted by virtual reality, the less we will engage in, well….real reality.
So I’m always thrilled to discover ways that technology is actually helping people feel connected, respected, and understood – it gives me hope for the future.
StoryCorps is one such bit of hope.
When I first heard about StoryCorps, it reminded me of The Moth. “True stories told live” is the Moth motto – and boy, do they deliver. The Moth reminds us how powerful the simple act of telling your story, and listening to others tell theirs, can be.
Just like The Moth, StoryCorps reveres the story, but then adds an element of interaction. StoryCorps invites people all over the country to grab a friend, loved one, or unsuspecting stranger and interview them. Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 50,000 interviews from more than 80,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
The StoryCorps mission is to “…spark a global movement to record and preserve meaningful conversations….that result in an ever-growing archive of the collective wisdom of humanity.” (For a moving overview by its founder, Dave Isay, and a sampling of choice interviews, watch this StoryCorps TED talk.)
Typical StoryCorps interview questions can be more straightforward, like Can you tell me the story of your first kiss? or What’s the worst thing you ever did as a kid? But they can also be as delving and complex as How has your life been different than you imagined? or If you were to die suddenly this evening, what would you regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet? and Tell me about the first time you saw me.
Whoa. Pretty deep stuff, certainly not fluff. It ain’t easy being intimate, and each StoryCorps interview is an act of courage that elicits raw honesty and beauty.
How often do we do this in real life – share deep, meaningful stories with each other? Talk about Things That Matter? Ask our friends, our family, or perfect strangers “Who are you? What have you learned in this life? How do you want to be remembered?”
Well, here’s your opportunity. Take a break from social media and turn your phone into an instant mobile interview device by downloading the StoryCorps app. Throw caution to the wind, put your fears into your back pocket for the moment, and get out there. Share an interview with your Mom, your best friend, your son, your hairdresser, or even the guy who mows your lawn every week.
Because the potential payoff is infinite. StoryCorps interviews give everyone at the table permission to go beneath the surface. And you might be amazed at how little you really know about the person you thought you knew the best in the world. And how much closer you can feel after coaxing to the surface their previously hidden depths.
Both parties, and everyone that hears your interview will be forever changed – whether slightly or monumentally – for the better.
Your words will ripple out to the universe (or at least as far as the Library of Congress), reminding us all:
I mean something, I have something to share, I exist.