There are diverse effects of knowledge — as we’ve seen in the first two parts of this series. Now we want to look at how we can protect ourselves from manipulative storytellers and the effects of their stories.
In your journey through life, you’re going to meet a lot of storytellers. Some, like Chinua Achebe, will do it for the greater good. But others will tell stories with the aim of defiling or manipulating the listener. Sometimes it may not even sound like they want to spoil and manipulate you.
There are also situations where people tell stories innocently but depending on the condition of things, we may end up picking up the wrong ideas. However, a good number of times, you are going to find yourself in the same space with a manipulative storyteller.
Let’s see who these storytellers are, the kind of stories they tell, and the ways they tell interesting stories that are embedded with corrupt messages.
Let start with ways a story can affect you.
Related Post: The Garden Of Eden.
How Stories affect you
According to Karen Eber, a leadership consultant who was giving a TED Talk to leaders, stories are so powerful that they can affect your judgement.
Stories can change the way you see and think about things. With stories, anyone can grab your undivided attention and change your mind and you won’t know you’ve changed. You are not asleep, you are wide awake but subconsciously changed without knowing. Stories make us emotional. And decision making is more about emotions than it is about reason. As a matter of fact, Karen Eber mentioned in her TED talk that most times the decision we think we are making based on reason had already been made based on emotions in our subconscious.
This is why we must try as much as we can to be alert when we meet certain storytellers. You can follow the link to watch Karen Eber’s TED talk.
The Single Story
The next thing I want us to consider quickly is the danger of a single story. I’ve had this idea presented in a lot of ways. It’s about knowing just a particular kind or version of a story that concerns a belief. This forces you to always think of one possible outcome or reason for something.
Ngozi Chimamanda explains this better in one of his presentations. When Ngozi was a kid, they were used to stories of people who had success growing up from a difficult childhood. This made her begin to think that you somehow have to pass through terrible things to be able to do well.
But that wasn’t true. Ngozi grew up in a properly set up family and ended up becoming one of the most famous writers of our time. This proved to her that you don’t need a rough and difficult childhood to actually become great.
When you only know one kind of story about a particular thing, it’s hard to see things happening differently. This is what Ngozi calls the danger of a single story. You can watch the danger of a single story on YouTube.
This is why you must be careful who you listen to. If you happen to hear the same kind of story over and over again you will find yourself bonded to the culture in those stories so much that you tend to resent anything that sounds different from what you are used to hearing.
This is what has shaped the belief system of a lot of people – knowing just a single kind of stories as it relates to a certain subject.
Many people are stuck and can’t see things differently because of the stories that have filled their minds over the years. You need to avoid this. One way to do this is to be careful who you listen to and to do all you can to get as much information as you can about life.
Now that we know how stories can affect us, let us look at the instances where we could have our minds destroyed by storytellers. This doesn’t mean that every storyteller does it with a hideous mindset. This is to let you know that you need to be on guard. Stories can influence you wrongly.
Both corrupt and innocent storytellers can pass the wrong message. The only difference is that the corrupt person will be doing so consciously while the innocent person will be doing so unknowingly. In any case, it’s a good idea to learn how to filter bad messages.
What I’m focusing on today are the negative effects of stories. Now most people who understand the effects of stories can figure out some of the things written below for themselves. But whether you’ve learned about this topic before or not you’ll surely get lots of ideas from this article.
These are the ways corrupt storytellers and their stories can impact you negatively. There’s certainly more when you look at life but we’ll focus more on the negative impacts of stories in modern times.
Agenda against Success
Ever happened to sit with someone who always has a story about a rich person who’s doing something bad to remain successful? They always have a story about people who stole or bought their way up. They always happen to know something very wrong about a successful man or woman.
Some women only have stories about ladies who are selling themselves for money. In the end, they would tell you, “Leave this life alone o. You don’t know what people are doing to be successful.” In other words, what they mean is that you may just have to sell yourself somehow if you are to find success.
You better be careful, otherwise in a short while you will start believing you have to cheat to be successful.
If you happen to grow with such people you will find it harder to see any other way to success. It will be hard for you to see that there are many men and women of integrity who are very successful.
One of the reasons a storyteller will come up with such stories is to find allies. They want people who would identify with them and their beliefs. They want people who would agree with them that every successful person cheated or is just lucky; people who would agree with them that you have to do something bad before you can ever become successful. So they pile up all these bad stories in their heads and tell them at every turn. Don’t fall for such storytellers, my friend!
The other reason is that these stories somehow serve as excuses. He finds good reasons in these stories that support his lack of belief in his dreams. These stories are a good reason for him to believe in luck. She has collected stories of people who were just lucky enough to be successful; of people who found success because they happened to be in the right place at the right time; people who are successful because they were born into a rich family.
Lazy people have loads of these stories. These stories somehow keep them satisfied with their inability to exercise patience, believe in themselves, work hard and achieve their goals.
Don’t fall for the storyteller. He’s just subtly presenting excuses. Keep listening and you’ll lose your way.
But some people have fought their way out of shame. A lot of people failed many times but kept pressing. Stories like this exist and we must tell them. What you may call luck wouldn’t exist if the lucky person had not been working on their dreams for years. Don’t fall for the corrupt storyteller and his stories. Don’t be the next victim of the ‘Single Story.’
Success answers to hard work. Whether you are rich or poor if you don’t work hard you will fail. Even when you are at the top you will go down. As a matter of fact, the higher you go the stronger you need to be mentally and emotionally. These are traits you can only pick up by working hard. No amount of luck will somehow inject such things into your system.
Someone may tell stories just to spoil you
Stories are a corrupt person’s secret weapon. The adulterer has all the stories in the world about cheating. The fornicator has lots of sex stories. The thief has all stories that sound like a good reason for him to steal.
Some people only have stories about cults and secret societies.
They have all the stories about a girl who’s lying to her parents to get what she wants. They have racy stories about the mistress and her gatekeeper. They have amazing stories of people who are respected because they steal resources meant for the poor. Have you ever spent time with such people? It’s just a matter of time before you fall for their advances.
And a person’s temperament, office or profession doesn’t stop him from being a thief, prostitute or an ingrate.
Your dominant temperament doesn’t make you immune to a certain lifestyle or character. The profession is just a profession. The title is just a title.
There are preachers who seduce others. There are men in suit embezzling funds. There are well-respected women cheating on their husbands. And they are most times very good storytellers. Don’t fall for it, my friend. These stories are there to slowly change and spoil you.
If you did not read the 2 ways stories can influence you above, please scroll back up and read them. You will understand how powerful stories are. If you don’t keep yourself away I don’t care how strong you think you are, it’s just a matter of time before you mess up badly.
Stories subtly send signals to your subconscious. Sooner or later some of the things you thought were very wrong will begin to seem okay. Wake up, and get a hold of yourself! Get away as fast as you can and don’t look back.
When people want to discourage and spoil a virgin, they fill them up with stories about people who failed to keep their virginity until they got married.
Some even tell you about how strong they were but couldn’t make it. Please don’t fall for the storyteller. Most of the times there is an agenda to weaken and discourage you.
You can remain a virgin until your wedding night. Don’t be a victim of the ‘Single Story.’ Find stories of people who succeeded in getting married as virgins and arm yourself with them.
There are a lot of people who got married as virgins. And there are also a lot of virgins around. Find them. Find their stories and you will find it easier to focus on your dreams. Remember, you cannot chase what you cannot see.
Movies do spoil us
Before you frown at this one, it’s not that watching movies is a bad thing. The problem lies in our likelihood to pick up bad messages while watching a movie.
Here’s how it works. Most movies give us a ‘good’ character, one that we will enjoy watching. While we watch a movie, the magic of storytelling does its work on our emotions. As we watch the movie we tend to think less and become much more emotional. What we like (good) and hate (bad) is now primarily decided emotionally. We may get to reason at times, we will still be, for the most part, emotional.
What happens especially among young people is that we get to love the ‘good’ character. We want to approve what he approves and dislike what she dislikes.
But even when these movies and their characters will be teaching us to like good things, a lot of the time they are also going to approve of bad things and we pick up these wrong ideas alongside without even knowing. This is a big problem for the younger generation.
They get to like characters who fight for their families but are also taking revenge, consequently, the young person who’s watching this hero or following the story learns about fighting for the family but at the same time, they get to look at taking revenge as a noble act.
There are also movies of young heroes who defy the odds to do great things. A young person watching this will for the most part get emotional about this story and the characters. So while they pick up the love and passion for goals and dreams, they also seem to find something good about dating and premarital sex — because that’s what we find in most teen movies.
This is one of the biggest problems young people face in this generation. And unless they are promptly and properly taught, they will pick up lots of wrong things emotionally and grow up with them.
Here are a few tips to help keep you immune from the negative effects of stories:
- Control your environment. Keep the bad eggs out. You have to be careful who you listen to. Be aware of those that can influence your life and make sure the bad storytellers stay out.
- Learn as much as you can. The only way to avoid being a victim of the ‘Single Story’ is by learning. It is by knowing other stories that counter the bad ones you are bound to hear. Never stop learning. Don’t become a victim of history and routine. Fill your mind with life-changing stories and ideas.
- Connect with great minds. Do this in every way possible. Try to connect with great minds wherever they can be found. Connect with them online, on social media, email subscriptions, and any other way you can think of. Download their songs if they are musicians, read their books and articles if they are authors.
- Watch movies more than once. This may sound ridiculous at first but it helps. When I find a good movie, I keep them and watch them more than once. I find that the first time you watch a movie you are almost always too anxious to think. Oxytocins are there to keep you foolish. But when you watch a movie the second time, you already know what will happen so you are more likely to think than follow the movie emotionally and anxiously. In this second state of mind, you will be able to separate good ideas from the bad ones that try to flow alongside.
- Finally, don’t fall for the Storyteller!
In conclusion, stories are so powerful that they can be used to develop or destroy you. There are a lot of stories out there for different purposes. But most people take delight in using them to trick people. However, these stories, no matter how they sound or who tells them, cannot give us what we really need as human beings.
But I know of a story that can change and restore.
It’s about the Son of a certain King who ruled the entire universe. There came a time when the universe was in dire need of a sacrifice to save them. The King’s Son decided to go. He came down to his subjects and lived among them as one of them. He humbled Himself to the point where he allowed himself to be killed by his subjects. But three days later he came back to life. This is the story of Jesus Christ the son of the Living God. Whoever repents of sin and believes in his death and resurrection is instantly cleansed of all sin and guilt and also given the power to become God’s son. This is the story that saves.
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