Toxic Stories: Stories That Cause Harm

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The story is the most powerful form of communication. This idea not only applies to verbal and written communications but other types of human expression as well.  If a story can be infused into other forms of communication such as  the music, visual art, and dance, they will be more accessible and memorable.

The story structure with its beginning, middle, and end is sticky and approachable. As children, we are drawn to story. When we grow old, we remember and find purpose through our stories. During every stage of our development stories wait for us and we search them out to be entertained, to understand, and to be understood. Stories connect us as individuals, communities, and societies.  Stories allow us to form identities on many levels.

Yep, stories are powerful…

But that doesn’t mean they are always good.

This very powerful form of expression and communication can be used for good and for bad—no, not just bad, some stories can be downright evil.  In my last series of articles, I wrote about junk stories: these stories fill you up like junk food, and if over consumed can affect your mental, emotional, and spiritual growth.  This new series will focus on toxic tales: stories that can cause harm.

We can often look back in time and identify stories in history, literature,writing, and folklore that generated hate, self-loathing, and confusion, but when they are presented as popular culture or “the next big thing,” it’s often difficult for the target audience to understand how toxic a tale can be.

I’m not suggesting that stories, movies, books, or shows should be banned.  Banned content often becomes more popular, besides, poisonous prose is often embraced.  The best way to protect yourself from toxic tales is to learn how to identify it and then refrain from creating, consuming, and/or promoting it.

I will focus on one form of toxic tales at a time focusing on my experience storytelling and story coaching.  Please send me your thoughts about different types of toxic tales…and I encourage you to list specific movies, stories, shows, and books.

 

Next: Toxic Tale #1-Promoting Hate through Discrimination

2 thoughts on “Toxic Stories: Stories That Cause Harm

  1. Allison Cox

    Passing on a query and comment from a friend: “This raises some interesting issues but I’m not sure what you are advocating – that they should or should not be told? Potentially any story is toxic, it all depends on the way the storyteller tells it.” And I would add time and place makes a difference too.

    Reply
    1. rivkawillick Post author

      Allison, We’ll explore when a story is toxic in this series. Sometimes the story is toxic to a specific listener and sometimes it is told in a harmful way. I also believe there are some stories that are harmful no matter how they are told. I also agree that time and place makes a huge difference. Sometimes it’s only as time passes that we see the harm a story has caused. (I’m looking at stories in many forms.) I look forward to your comments as the series unfolds.

      Reply

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