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Jewish Culture

Stories Everywhere

Moshe Unger
Posted 1/14/22

Today, every company tries to tell “stories”. There’s a cliché that it’s important for marketing. I agree that it is, but not every story works. For the story to …

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Jewish Culture

Stories Everywhere


Today, every company tries to tell “stories”. There’s a cliché that it’s important for marketing. I agree that it is, but not every story works. For the story to resonate it has to convey a truth about human nature and also, not every story works for everyone.

The yogurt that I like because it is rich in texture tells me that “You are wholesome” and that I should “just be”. I’m not sure what “wholesome” means and I’m not convinced that I want to “just be”.

I understand that they want to convey a “Brooklyn Hipster” kind of message which somehow people connect with nature and with “wholesomeness” or whatever. To me, I don’t think the hipster is connected to nature; the farmer is. I would have connected to marketing that connects the yogurt to nature and that utilizes rich graphics, that would have conveyed the story that the yogurt tells me – rich, uncompromised, and tasty ingredients.

At least they got me to react to their verbiage!

It was a transformative moment for me, a few years ago, when I came to realize the difference between facts and stories and that humans process information as stories rather than facts. I’ll explain what I mean.

Let’s take the weather as an example. Two people check the weather, but they experience it as two different stories. For one person the knowledge of the weather felt empowering. He or she feels good that they are in the know of what the weather will be in the next few days. For someone else, checking the weather meant a change of schedule to avoid traveling on a rainy day.

They both have the same information, but they don’t process it as bits of information. For one person it is part of a story of feeling empowered and for the other it is part of a story of planning their schedule. The facts mean different things for each person.

Stories have a beginning, middle, and end and they are a combination of information and feelings. Humans don’t process information like a computer in which the information is technical data. In humans, every bit of information is part of something bigger. It’s a continuation of something prior and a build up to something after. Sometimes it is intriguing to see how the left-leaning and the right-leaning news outlets use the same information to mean two different things.

Everything that we learn becomes part of a story and everything that we do is part of our story. What we do, for good or bad, either changes our story or reinforces a story that we already feel part of.

In the Torah portion of last week, the Torah tells us to tell the story of the exodus to our children and our grandchildren. We have national stories, global stories, and we have family stories, and personal stories. Shaping our stories to reflect truth and telling it over is extremely important.

A friend of mine who is not religious but still wants to make sure that his grandchildren feel part of the Jewish story recently told me that he established a small family fund to pay for camp for his grandchildren. Camp, if it’s not just Jewish in name but also in its programming, can be an amazing opportunity to get a real dip at Jewish experiences and it is still not as costly as all year Jewish education.

Just a suggestion.

Comments? Email me: moshe@mosheunger.com.


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