The Power of a Single Story ~ Part 1
In July 2009, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave a ted talk titled “the danger of a single story.” I first listened to the talk somewhere in 2013 and since then, I have often listened to it a couple of times more. The whole idea of her talk centers on the concept of single perceptiveness.
In talking about how the rest of the world looks at her country, Nigeria through the single lens of the western media, Adichie seeks, in a way, to challenge people to have a wider perspective in terms of what they can accept as a true description of an entity, component, person, country, culture, tribe et cetera.
How often are we quick to judge whenever we hear a story without ever taking our time to get all the facts. The single point of view should be credited to the deteriorated and rampant spread of fake news. The lack of a need to get all the information right before sharing is responsible for widespread hatred across the globe.
The single-story perspective is a source of prejudice for certain groups of people. It is what leads to generalization whereby a single bit of information makes one brand a whole community or people from a certain geographical location or even people of certain color inappropriately. This single-story syndrome is as fatal as a poison since it sometimes begins lightly by judging a single individual the wrong way.
We seem to be in hurry to spew out that that we have not even tasted. That is the paradox of life. That of looking with a punitive eye because of misinformation we received and one in which we dared not question its validity. We never take a step back to ask ourselves if carrying that story as it is, is the right thing to do.
According to a 2018 UNESCO publication; “Journalism, ‘Fake News’ &Disinformation,” journalism today faces fire and pressure to feed people information at such a scale to match individual people’s social media information dissemination. The traditional ways of handling information are out of the window and in comes the free ground for all and sundry to share information.
This seems to complicate the whole idea of a danger of a single story. As this false information finds itself in the hands of a digitally savvy generation, all they do is hit the share button. With each sharing comes a wrong disposition of whatever it is to the rest of the world.
This is so well captured in the UNESCO report. Somewhere the report notes ” The lines between fact, entertainment, advertising, fabrication, and fiction are increasingly blurred. And when disinformation and misinformation are published, the social news distribution system, dependent on peer-to-peer sharing, frequently sends the content viral, making it impossible to pull back, even if journalists and other fact-checkers successfully debunk it.”
so, it is the reality of our times that a single story carries a lot of power. Power is so massive that it can bring down empires. It is the source of propaganda driving political discourses globally. The power behind this massive fake news is flooding our internet today in Kenya as we near the August 9th election.
The greatest question we ask ourselves is whether we are a part of the people selling the single-story ideology as a too to draw meaning for ourselves while at the same ensuring we negatively sell the rest of the people to the world? Take a step back and ask yourself again and again if that single story that you carry along with you is the best thing you would be doing.
The single-story has immense power. And that is why is it very dangerous.