Storytelling begins with a kind of empathy

Saturday, July 27th, 2019

Storytelling begins with a kind of empathy, Neal Stephenson explains, in his conversation with Tyler:

I think that part of it begins with empathy because, in order to tell somebody a thing, you need to know and understand what it’s like to not already know that thing, which seems kind of obvious.

Little bit of a tangent here. For a while, my kid was on a soccer team, and we had a group of parents who would organize going to these different soccer games all over the city, each one at a different field. These different parents would write emails. This was before mapping systems were good, so parents would take turns writing emails, telling you how to get to the soccer field.

The range of skill was amazing. You would get people who just couldn’t do it, couldn’t make a very simple description of how to go from point A to point B, and others who wrote these amazing, almost like little short stories about it.

I started thinking about it then, and thinking that the thing that distinguished the people who were good at it was that they were capable of putting themselves in the shoes of somebody who didn’t know how to find that field and imagining what it would be like to try to navigate that route. And those people were good at it.

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