The Danger of a Single Story

Abigail Dring


January 24, 2014

I have a power over you, me as the writer and you as the reader, whether you know it or not. I have the power to shape your view of Ecuador through my writing. Since you, my blog followers, have for the most part never never been to Ecuador, and most likely know little to nothing about this country, your view on Ecuador is significantly shaped by what I write, post, and tell to you. Do you have any idea the immense amount of pressure that puts on me? Well it’s a lot. If you have read my other blogs you will know that I have not told you a lot about Ecuador. This is because I have been haunted by this idea of a single story.

This idea is one of stereotypes. I do not want my readers to develop a stereotype of Ecuador through my writing.  For me the single story is so very prominent in the media. Showing a group a people as one. “Show a people as one thing — as only one thing — over and over again, and that is what they become.” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichien. Take a second and write down the first three things that comes to mind when you think about the CONTINENT (not country) of Africa. As I can probably guess it came something like starving people, extreme poverty, and wild safaris. Now I can’t speak to Africa, but I can say that that is not the only thing happing in Africa. The fact of the matter is, cultures, places and people are all different. They are so complex and have many layers, dimensions, and histories, that it is impossible to accurately portray everything with one story.

Storyies are powerful. “Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity.” Chimamanda Nogozi Adichien. So I’m going to challenge you to be open minded, and make less assumptions about people, places, and things. To dig deeper and look more closely at what you are hearing, and that includes from me. The old saying “don’t believe everything you see” is very true. From here on out in my blog I’m going to write about my experiences and my life here in Ecuador, but know that I’m having only one experience, so take everything that I write with a grain of salt and know that the experience is different for everyone.

Abigail Dring