Tuesday, January 6, 2015

How Much of the Story is Fact

    Our sense of reality is something that I've often thought about. On many occasions we hear people's versions of the same thing and they are quite different.

    As a child I loved listening to adults tell of their experiences. There are some people I loved to listen to even if they repeated the same story many times. A good story teller always told the same version.

    An exercise I did with my students, was to start a sentence at the front of the row and see what ended 5 seats later. All of this was oral and it was pretty wild what ended at the last of the row. Sometimes the exercise was sabotaged when they decided to deliberately twist things. Then they wanted another try to do the exercise correctly. 

   Many times we hear people giving an account of a common event and there are different versions. In fact there may be arguments about  the accuracy of the version .

   My brother and I have versions of the same event that are fairly similar. There are certain events he can not remember at all and certain things I do not recall.

   For my wife and I, quite often our version of events is quite different. Sometimes it seems that we are not even talking about the same event.

   So what makes for the differences of the perceptions we have of the same event?  Does space matter?  If I'm behind a certain event and you are ahead does that make for some difference in an account?  What influence does our life experience make in how we see an event.? What difference does experience after an event have on our account of an event? Does  being male or female make a difference in the version? Does age make a difference?

    Now I consider these issues, because like it or not, I have been labelled as a story teller on my blog. I appreciate comments which show appreciation for what I have written. 

   The stories I tell are of the experiences I've had. How close to reality are my accounts? I like to think my accounts are fairly accurate. My life has been adventurous and I've often experienced some interesting times. There are different ways to tell a good story.

   I think a combination of these things have to be in place to tell a story. The information and experience have to be present. Now the event can be fairly common place but if you have any idea of how to tell a story the event becomes interesting.

   So do you think the relation of events is always precise or is there variation.from the original?

37 comments:

  1. People see very different things. You can imagine the problems it causes with witnesses in trials. They have done tests where they acted a crime on stage and people had completely different versions of what had happen. A bit scary isn't it.

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    1. It's a bit scary but very interesting. Most people go about their business thinking everybody else has the same perception in their head.

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  2. Time, place, age and gender must all play a part. My brother and I differ on some things remembered...he is three years younger than me. Of course my sister who is 16 years younger than me is completely out of the loop.
    Some people are better story tellers than others. You are a good one Red:)

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    1. Thanks. I have a brother 15 years younger and of course we don't have a lot to talk about when it comes to family experiences.

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  3. I have heard this before. I was also told once that our brains can only take in 10% of a conversation. Whether this is fact I am not sure. Remembering 10% percent of 10% could be a bit dodgy ;)

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    1. 10% wouldn't surprise me but it's scary.

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  4. Sometimes I think you tell a "story" or your interpretation of an event as you see it.
    I have seen something completely differently to mates of mine which both of us have seen?????
    One of us - we wonder - is blind! ( And for the record - it is not moi/me!!) Sporting events is sure way up with differences of what is seen by one and seen by the other.
    And for the record - friends do not fall out over such things.
    As usual a thoughtful blog for your friends. Well done.
    Cheers
    Colin.

    PS: Hope you noted the victory of Canada over the USA in the Hopman Cup (tennis) last night in Perth??
    Aaaah - with Eugenie, it is a wonder that the young males of the World don't flock to Canada. Oh to be young!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ??????????????? Dream on Colin.

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    1. In sports, sometimes the refs don't agree. I'm afraid I don't follow sports at all.

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  5. Never precise. People see things differently, remember them differently after a time and will tell stories from a different angle. That is why the police interview as many people as they can.

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    1. Good point about police investigations.

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  6. From one storyteller to another Red oh yes we all see things differently even in the same room at the same time. Interesting I think. B

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    1. Maybe we're not half as smart as we think we are?

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  7. Its how each mind perceives the event or story. Every body sees it differently, some see it exactly the way it happened or was told. I did a similar exercise with a group of ladies one night and we went from exaggerated at first, which made everyone laugh and then we did a second the way it should have been done. Story I told was similar but a little different too. Cheers

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    1. I guess I've never sat down and thought about this situation before.

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  8. Easy to have that story vary, each person identifies with facts a little different.

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    1. We must also have some filters that take out some detail.

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  9. Absolute variations! But this is the joy of storytelling. We are shaped by our life experiences. We learn about ourselves in the telling of stories. There is healing in telling our stories!

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    1. No doubt about it that writing can be very therapeutic.

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  10. As individuals, we notice different details than someone else, and many, many factors go into that.

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    1. Viewing was one part of the middle school curriculum and it was a challenge for me to teach it.

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  11. In a college class I took the teacher had 4 actors rush in and stage an emergency situation with cap guns that smoked, yelling, injuries, and death. When it was all over, the class had to answer certain questions in a summary of the "event". It was eye-opening as we were all sure about exactly what happened. No one reported exactly the same thing. Great discussion after, and I have carried the lesson through life.

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    1. I'm sure it was an excellent learning situation.

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  12. using the witness account statements of what happened with more recent shootings, i'd say there are lots of versions folks tell. some are embellished, perhaps. some are flavored by emotion of all kinds. and i do think men and women see things differently and relate it back that way, too. :)

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    1. Differences in communication of males and females is another whole topic on it's own.

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  13. I am sometimes amazed at the difference in perception of events in the past with my sister, who is two years younger than me. All the things you list make us remember differently, I'm convinced. And yes, you are a good storyteller, but what is reality? That's the question. :-)

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    1. Your last question calls for a complete college class or maybe has been part of many college classes.

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  14. Enjoyed you post -- my first visit here -- follwed DJan. Anyway, your writing exercise reminded me of how I began my writing classes for adults over 50.

    The first night they showed up with books they wrote that were published and magazine and newspaper stories. I told them I would give them an assignment that could be and was done by a single student of mine who finished the story in less than one dozen words.

    Each person write down how you tie your shoelace. And you must pass it to a stranger sitting in the room. Then the stranger will stand and read what you wrote on how to tie a shoe lace in a bow knot. The person who does it must then read it while a student in class follows the directions to see if you included all the details from picking up the ends of the laces...

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    1. Thanks for visiting Hiawatha House. I like your point that many of us are too wordy.

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  15. I think the details of the event change many times from one person to the next. It all depends on who is telling the story. When I was in elementary school we played a game called "broken telephone" (similar to what you did with your students). A word was whispered from student to student, and by the time we got to the last student who was supposed to repeat what was said, the word was totally different from what was started. A valuable lesson learned. Don't always believe what you hear/read/see. Always check multiple sources, do your own investigation, research, research, research...

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    1. I like your rule ...research, research, research!

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  16. You ask a question I've long struggled with. When I read my stories to my mother she often says, "I don't remember that." And when my wife edits my stories she often asks, "How much of this is true?" As story tellers, I think we should be given some lead way here. My goal is to entertain, not recite a dictionary of events. Although my stories are 85-95% true, I tend to think of them as "autobiographical fiction."

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    1. Autobiographical fiction sounds like a valid genre to me.

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  17. For every person, perception is reality, but perceptions vary.

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  18. It has happened to me too.
    When I try to recollect things which happened long ago, and think its all accurate, some one else points out that "it was not like that"

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  19. I think what you have experience in life is the clue here..from youth to eldery.
    The same experience I think will always differ from person to person.Its nothing to do about it.thats why we humans are so beautiful and different:)

    Thank you for writing this Red:)

    Greetings Anita

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  20. Oh yes! Memories of experiences vary according to the teller. Definitely. I was compiling the war time memories of my mother and her three sisters and it was incredible to hear the variations on the same crisis they encountered.

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  21. I enjoyed this post a lot! A while back I posted about my mom and dad flying to New York in the 1950's and being at Times Square on New Year's Eve and then the snow storm that came and delayed their flight home...which was all true. I vividly remember the time! My sister who is three years older than me read my post, called me and said, where the heck was I when all this happened!?

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