The other night I dreamt that I was walking outside and as I walked, my thoughts left word prints on the ground. The words just spilled out and arranged themselves on the ground behind me as I moved along. In my dream I was so intrigued with this that I got out my phone to take pictures of the words. After taking just one picture, something distracted me and I didn’t take more. Later, when I went back to get pictures of the rest of the words, it was snowing and the words were being covered up by the snow.
I guess writing is like the first part of this dream. (In fact, I think the dream happened because for the past few days I’ve been wondering what to write this next blog about.) Writing takes our thoughts and somewhat magically puts them into an arrangement of symbols that we can share with others.
But what about the snow and the camera? The snow and the camera are about how words can quickly be forgotten unless they are converted into images. And this leads us to movies. Movies move beyond words; they imprint images. For most of us, images are stronger and more lasting than words. And images that are arranged to tell stories are the strongest and most lasting of all.
Paul J. Zak, Ph.D., author of The Moral Miracle: How Trust Works, has spent several years seeking to understand why stories can change our attitudes, opinions and behaviors. This is what he found.
- Stories that are personal and emotionally compelling engage more of the brain, and thus are better remembered, than a set of facts.
- The medium used to tell a story also seems to matter. His research demonstrated that when people watch a story in a film or video, they are more likely to become emotionally engaged than when they read the same story.
Narrative and documentary films are powerful tools for those who teach about aging and elderhood. Words and facts can fall to the ground and fade. Imaged stories take root in our brains and stay.
– Jim Vanden Bosch