The Danger of a Single Story

The danger of a single story is that you have only one view point on a person or place or group of people. In many ways having a single story about something is one of the most damaging one can think about something. A single story can cause much misunderstanding. For example, if you heard that my family’s dog Gizmo chewed on shoes a few times, you may think he is a very naughty dog. However, he has stopped doing this and one time when he escaped from his leash on a walk he just sat there and did not run off. I know this is a simple example and lacks complexity, but it does illustrate the basic concept.


Let us think of another example. I have heard that people in other places believe that Oklahoma is a place full of cowboys and farmer. This is because of media portrayals like in the movie Oklahoma, even though that film is from a long time ago. There have not really been any more accurate portrayals of Oklahoma since then, and those that have shown Oklahoma in a different light are often not associated with Oklahoma. This is of course not an accurate portrayal of Oklahoma, which is dominated by the large cities of Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Many people still think that Oklahomans are a bunch of rural hicks, which is another example of a single story about a group people.

Another danger is that you may not do something because of your misunderstanding. This can even apply from a people to themselves. I have a friend, who will not name to protect his privacy, who says he is not planning on voting this November because he does not believe the Democrats can win. This is of course not true, since the previous Governor of Oklahoma was, in fact, a Democrat named Brad Henry. My friend’s misconceptions about Oklahomans, a group which includes himself, is causing him to not do an action he would otherwise do. I believe that this type of behavior will perpetrate the single political story about Oklahomans, which is that we are all Republicans, rather than helping change it.

I think it is important for all humans to reject these single stories and help undo stereotypes. I, for one, will resist this political single story and encourage my friend to do the same.


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