We Love Our Stories Like We Love Our Chicken Nuggets
By Felix Nguyen, Graphic Designer
I think we humans love our stories like we love our chicken nuggets – bite-sized, convenient, enjoyable and enough to satisfy us for a brief moment. Think about it; our daily sources of news and stories come from social media, news articles, movies, etc. We were even trained to be familiar with these story-nuggets as kids with fables or bedtime stories. I think that we are, then, too easily satisfied.
Please do not misunderstand me – as a film geek and an art major, I am all about efficient storytelling. A movie surpassing 120 minutes in duration usually struggles to keep its charm, meandering articles or social media posts often get scrolled past and people generally only stick around for easy-to-digest stories. I believe where it gets unhealthy, similar to how chicken nuggets are at a certain extent, is when a single story becomes our viewing lens of a person, or a people. When we stop at only one or two scenes of an entire movie reel, we often make incomplete predictions about how the narrative has unfolded and will develop.
When I was in elementary school in Vietnam, I remember feeling very anxious whenever I came into contact with my schoolteachers, as I am sure my peers would have agreed. In my mind, teachers were intimidating, boring people who knew nothing other than books and papers and only existed on class podiums to force their stuffy lifestyle on younglings. One day, I accidently ran into one of my teachers at an amusement park and was shocked to see her having fun with her husband and children. I had never cared to imagine that my teachers had interesting lives of their own outside of class with their hobbies and people they care about. I cannot describe how silly I felt.
Today, as an international student in Abilene, I have definitely noticed a certain hesitance from some domestic students when they come into contact with foreign students. It usually does not come from a point of hate, just of a certain discomfort and the ignorance-is-bliss mentality that they would not get with people from their area. Whether that is considered racism, I am not sure. I am a positive person and will just assume that these people are not ready to hear the full story.
So, how do we change this? Growing up in Asia and in Vietnam particularly, I have become acquainted with a culture that emphasizes legacy and a fully-realized history. As a kid, I remember always trying to wiggle out of my grandmother’s lap as she turns on her cruise-control mode and recites her younger years from decades ago, to go find something more interesting. Looking back, I think any generation can relate to the fear of being misunderstood or being forgotten. I think that same fear drives a grandparent to repeatedly tell their life story to their kids as it drives teenagers to repeatedly post about their daily lives on social media. Humanity treasures so many stories untold. Maybe if we can all stop and listen to these stories - stories of human individuals, not of a stereotype - the world will become a much more understanding place.
I think chicken nuggets are a little too overrated, anyway.