Storytelling During COVID-19: How Personal Anecdotes Have Changed and Change Us

by Virginia Pieczynski

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In this text I examine the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the ways in which we tell stories of our own lives, and speculate on how the pandemic will impact stories we tell in the future. This topic is explored through various texts, recorded stories, and interviews with several middle to upper middle class residents of suburban Illinois.

COVID-19 has drastically altered the daily activities and experiences of each of us. Included in this is the people we speak to and our methods of communication. There is generally a large increase in the time spent with members of our household, and a decrease in the time spent with others. In comparing stories told in-person vs virtually, I found that most people I talked to tended to share more stories with the people they live with, and only the most important with others. This was significant because for many the pandemic has limited the number of interesting personal anecdotes we have in a day. Despite this, I found that people were still sharing as many stories as they had before. Additionally, it brought many to realize the importance of stories in staying connected with others virtually.

In addition to understanding our current habits, I asked people to speculate on how they might look back on the pandemic through a storytelling lens. I found that the people I asked were concerned with the type of narrative they would construct about this period of time, and the lessons we can impart through this narrative. Several people also shared stories that felt significant to them in some way as a story they might tell in the future. Through this, I gained a deeper understanding of how the lens of storytelling can create and shape meaning, especially in a time when so many are searching for just that.

Bibliography

Fivush, Robyn. ““A Life without Stories Is No Life at All”: How Stories Create Selves.”

Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture 3, no. 1 (2019): 41-44. Accessed

October 25, 2020. https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.26613/esic.3.1.116.

McLean, Kate C. “The Creation of Stories: For the Person or for the Group?”

Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture 3, no. 1 (2019): 65-68. Accessed October 26, 2020. https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.26613/esic.3.1.122.

Sundahl, Heather. “The Stories We Tell—And What They Tell Us.” Dialogue: A Journal

of Mormon Thought 53, no. 1 (2020): 89-98. Accessed October 23, 2020. doi:10.5406/dialjmormthou.53.1.0089.

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