Tuesday, June 18 2024

Stories have always helped people to recount or teach lessons. They inspire
us, they shape our decisions, they help us to relate to painful situations
and to put into words things that we sometimes struggle to recognize and
express.

They may be written with the purpose of entertaining, educating, or
relaying important messages. Whatever their purpose, stories help humans
better understand themselves.

With the passage of time, the way stories are told has also changed. Today,
there are numerous tools through which we can tell a story. In addition to
books – a classic – there are also films and TV series.

The stories most loved by today’s youth

A survey launched by Familyandmedia in 2018 identified some of the
youth’s most-liked works, including books, films, and TV series. September
24 and 25, 2021, at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross,


a group of young people, between 20 and 30 years old, joined the
researchers of Familyandmedia


to discuss the content of these works and to analyze how they convey
fundamental themes in life, such as love and friendship. It was an
important chance to exchange not only ideas, but also emotional
experiences.

Friendship and love through stories

Among the works in question were the best seller Harry Potter and
the film The Chronicles of Narnia, which placed the theme of
friendship at the center of the focus group.

What strengthens a friendship and what undermines it? Is it possible to
forgive a friend who we feel betrayed us? These are just some of the
questions that moved the youth’s conversations along. The debate also
covered topics like bullying, the difficulties that young people experience
nowadays, especially at school, and the importance of the role parents and
friends play in trying times.

The series Thirteen Reasons Why gave the group several
opportunities to explore these issues. The talks opened with a viewing of
some scenes from the sit-com The Big Bang Theory, bring up the
prickly question: can men and women be friends?

Besides friendship, love was the other important element of this study. In
this case, the debate was inspired by some scenes from the box office hit Titanic. The intense romance between Jack and Rose generated a
deep reflection on what true love is, focusing their attention on the
concept of idealization. Love was a delicate theme to discuss, as in
today’s world, everything seems to be fleeting and a bizarre concept of
freedom seems to lead to nothing stable and lasting.

Social networks and feelings

In addressing these topics, we couldn’t leave out a fundamental question:
how much and in what way do social networks influence feelings and
relationships? Today, we are surrounded with possibilities to connect to
the virtual world. There is a risk of only living in this virtual
dimension, made up of messages and notifications, without really developing
a relationship with someone. Of course, we cannot help but think that
thanks to these means of communication, we are able to be in contact with
those who are far away. However, what’s the flip side – especially for
those who depend too much on these digital means? The risk is to live an
interpreted reality –always detached from the real reality. Not
only that but masking oneself behind a screen without ever showing oneself
for what one is can inhibit one’s ability to express oneself. Everyone
needs to express his or her thoughts and feelings. It’s an art to be
learned over time – not immediately.

It then becomes essential to develop a narrative intelligence, which allows
us to go beyond the story itself and read and understand the “subtext” and
the values that the narrator wants to communicate to us. The greatest love
stories and stories about friendship are timeless and pave the way for new
arrivals; they never wane because they capture what is always human about being human.

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