An elderly man pushed himself up off the tram seat in preparation for the fast approaching stop. He stooped over to pick up his scattered Coles shopping bags, and just as he returned to the standing position, he looked straight at me.
“I like your shoes,” he said, concluding his sentence with a false-teeth grin. “My daughter has a pair of shoes just like that. She says they are comfy. Are they comfy?”
“Yeah, they’re pretty comfy,” I replied.
“I like the bright colour too. Every day is so grey,” he sighed.
And with that, he swung his walking stick out the tram door for balance and took two heavy steps to reach the safety of the footpath. Then the doors shuddered closed and we were off again, leaving me sitting alone on the tram, smiling.
If you’re still reading you’re probably wondering why I’ve shared this story with you.
Maybe you want to know what the point is. Or are trying hard to find some underling or hidden meaning. Sorry to tell you there isn’t any. There’s also no standout takeaway or tweetable phrases in this story.
I did this on purpose. You see lately I’m tired of being asked how to write stories that will go viral, have a high click-through rate and that impart some never read before wisdom. Sure, I can tell you the ideal time to post, how to structure your piece or what quotes to include, but what you really should be focusing on is the story itself – the people in it, the emotions it invokes and why the story should be shared.
We need to start putting the human back into human interest stories.
Not every story has to have an underlying or hidden meaning. Meaning and significance come from the story itself.
We crave connection and we are always seeking it. That’s why we read and tell stories. We use them to bridge the gap our global system has created between ourselves and others.
When we purposefully write deeper meanings, key takeaways, and shareable phrases into every story, we do so at the expense of connection. We remove any emotion, mold people to fit stereotypes and reduce the story to its parts – product placement and one-sided motivations. These types of stories won’t travel far. And for this I’m grateful.
It’s not hard to find, write and share human interest stories. In fact, I’d argue you’re surrounded by hundreds of them every day. It’s just that currently you’re not open to them. But you could be. All you need to do is place value on the human in human interest stories.
And the old man was right. Melbourne can be grey, which was my exact thinking when I bought the shoes. I chose the bright pink ones over the navy blue because some days I need a little colour.
Featured image from Pixabay.