The Power of Storytelling — and Retelling

At first, I ignored it when I saw a few people posting the Zach Wahls video again over the past few days. The Iowa college student with two moms had shot to viral fame last February when he spoke at an Iowa House hearing about a bill to ban marriage for same-sex couples. I’d posted not just the original video, but also his chat with Ellen and a conversation among him and his moms. I thought his apparent resurgence was really just a few people late to the party. (Heck, I think that old e-mail spam letter about the Neiman-Marcus cookie recipe still makes the rounds now and then.)

But what really happened was that MoveOn.org had reposted his original speech on November 30, with the headline, “Two Lesbians Raised A Baby And This Is What They Got.” The reposting generated over 600,000 Facebook shares, Likes, and comments in less than 24 hours, according to an e-mail they sent to supporters.

It brings to mind an old saying in the advertising business that a consumer needs to see an ad seven times before it will make an impression. Kudos to whoever at MoveOn.org thought to repost it. If nothing else, it should tell us the importance of telling our own stories—on our blogs, Facebook, Twitter, in print, and in person—and retelling them, even when we think they’ve been told before.

Storytelling lies at the heart of the human experience. It is something we expose our children to almost from birth, and cuts across time and cultures. Never underestimate the staying power—or the transformative power—of a good story.

(No political roundup this week. Not too much going on, post-holiday.)