The Danger of a Single Story
The speaker showed through personal anecdotes how much of our shared understanding of the world is formed as a collection of narratives that we create, share and consume over a period of time. Her anecdotes showed that these narratives can often be very narrow in terms of capturing the nuance of the underlying subjects. Consequently, they present simplistic caricatures that misinform our understanding of the world and skew our perception. In doing so, these stories deprive us of true awareness of our reality and environment and the context of our existence along with that of those around us.
Compressing the complexities of the world into a single story causes us to lose a lot of information. Fide's family is poor, but hard working. A novel can be about anyone, not just white blue-eyed characters with a penchance for consuming apples.
Speaker also argues that power dynamics affect the stories being told and the manner in which they are told. Thinking about the media landscape, propaganda machines and our general predispositions to prefer certain simple narratives is an example of how our perception of truth or of any objective reality is warped by the agenda driven narratives that dominate our media consumption landscape.
Stories are like compression algorithms for reality. You don't want to lose too much information in the process. ~ Wasif Hyder
This isn't to say that all stories and media have a negative agenda associated with them. Rather, the argument is that storytelling is a powerful medium and is subject to and an instructment of the power dynamics that exist within society. Take, for example, the changes made in the movie Doctor Strange. The canon version of the character "The Ancient One" is Tibetan, however, writers changed this to avoid risking offending the Chinese government and it's citizens. The Chinese government doesn't recognize Tibet as a nation. This example illustrates how stories are affected by political considerations.
Stories do matter. We think in terms of stories. We consume stories without even realising. Most of our worries, pains and insecurities are also stories we've told ourselves with varying levels of accuracy. It is important, therefore, to pay attention to the stories we are telling and consuming, and to seek out varied, nuance and complex perspectives. We have to be more sophisticated producers and consumers of stories in order to develop a more sophisticated and rich understanding of our world instead of it's caricature.