Technology today has brought people together like never before. One can talk to a relative while looking at them on the other side of the country or make a new friend on the other side of the world. Opportunity to learn has never been so great. We are all connected. I have noticed a trend as of late that troubles me. It seems that with all of these new ways to communicate we are losing an art that men have passed down through the ages. We are forgetting how to tell a story.Things move a little slower in the South or at least they used to. For many years men have gathered in the town square, the local store or even outside the Church after Sunday service to pass along legends and lies to their contemporaries. It was a means of passing information but more importantly it was a form of entertainment. Where do you think men like Faulkner got their material? These spinners of yarn honed their skills until it became an art form. Now I fear that the impersonal nature of online communication is slowly eroding the occupation of the tale-bearer. So how does one tell a tale?
The first thing you must know is to always pass along the story as if you were there. It is of no consequence if you have the information first hand or not. I should mention here that, although your attendance at the event is not a necessity, you should always examine your audience to ensure that they were not there either. Nothing will end a tale so quickly as some killjoy who actually knows the truth. This is why you should try to limit the participants as best you can, perhaps going so far as to abandon the endeavor all together if you sense a mob is gathering. It is key to maintain eye contact with the hearers because we all know that a liar will not look you in the eyes. Feel free as you go to embellish and exaggerate all the points of your story but keep in mind the general knowledge that the audience may possess. For example, don’t make the largemouth bass that you landed forty pounds if you are conversing with fisherman. They will call you out and ultimately you will have offended them.
Also keep in mind as you go that there is a fine line between a tale-bearer and a blowhard. The former is well received when seen again while the latter will be avoided. The majority of listeners will absorb the narrative like a sponge but there will always be the skeptic. Do not be discouraged by the occasional naysayer. He would not believe your story even if it were true.
Finally, be careful not to repeat your chronicle too many times because it is hard to remember which lie you told to whom. Ultimately, imagination is the key to how to tell your tale, but I fear that we have lost that skill today.