I was writing a proposal that included a romanticized section on story telling and I wanted to illustrate how humans have used stories to share information around the campfire.
I found a study published August, 2014 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that reinforced my point. I ended up omitting it from the proposal and chose to write about it here.
Researchers previously studied how cooking affected diets and anatomy, but “little is known about how important the extended day was for igniting the embers of culture and society,” anthropology professor Polly Wiessner writes in her study.
“There is something about fire in the middle of the darkness that bonds, mellows and also excites people. It’s intimate,” says Wiessner. “Nighttime around a fire is universally time for bonding, for telling social information, for entertaining, for a lot of shared emotions.”
Wiessner’s study, which she calls “exploratory,” analyzed scores of daytime and firelight conversations among !Kung Bushmen – also known as Ju/’hoansi Bushmen – some 4,000 of which now live in the Kalahari Desert of northeast Namibia and northwest Botswana.
The day and nighttime conversations were radically different, she found. When the sun was up, 34 percent of conversations involved complaints, criticisms and gossip, all of which are known to regulate social norms. Another 31 percent covered economic topics, such as foraging plans and hunting strategies; 16 percent comprised jokes; just 6 percent were stories, and the rest consisted of other matters, such as interethnic relations and land rights. In contrast, 81 percent of conversations at night included stories, only 7 percent involved complaints, and just 4 percent involved economic issues.
Wiessner says !Kung Bushmen hold firelight gatherings most nights in groups of up to 15 people. A camp has hearths for each family, but at night people often converge at a single hearth. She analyzed only conversations involving five or more people.
These firelight tales, rarely told during the day, reinforce social traditions, encourage harmony and equality, and create a sense of community.
The consensus is telling stories around a campfire may have served as one of the first forms of social media, helping humans create and spread culture.
Story telling is a powerful part of our culture. Humans are drawn to narrative with a inherited desire to see and listen to other humans to gain new knowledge, be entertained and informed.
While not quite the same as campfire tales in the bush, video allows you to share your brand with an audience in an intimate and meaningful way.
If you’d like to write a story and film a campfire conversation that shares your brand’s story with your customers give us a call.