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Friday, August 05, 2011

Story and Good News - Resolution

While I was in Miss Benoit's English class as a Freshman in high school, I learned a French word: denoument. It's the way to say that the story is done. Things have come to a conclusion. It's the "happily ever after" moment.

It's not that every story should end with everything happy and fantastic, but that stories are meant to resolve. The come to a close. That's why a cliff-hanger is so effective. When you're watching a TV show and Jack Bauer is about to disarm the bomb (or explode) and the end credits appear before you can find out what happens, you are longing for a denoument. Since human brains work in stories, the move toward resolution is like gravity. We seek it, either consciously or unconsciously, we move toward resolution as quickly as we can.

Seeking resolution isn't bad, but in our desire to wrap up stories, we can move toward the quickest resolution rather than the best resolution. We want the story to be done, so we avoid conflict that might lengthen the story, even if it would make the resolution that much better. We avoid pain or cost so we can get to the denoument that much faster.

Everything is abbreviated when we communicate online. The words are more spare and the timeline is shortened. It's scary to leave a story in conflict when you're online. The fragile fa├žade of online relationships doesn't seem like it can withstand the uncertainty of delayed resolution. But if online relationships are ever going to move to something more, become less than superficial acquaintances, then engaging in real conflict and waiting for real resolution is an important step.

When you're hurting, you don't have to put it behind you immediately. You don't have to put on a good face for the people online. If you aren't at a resolution, don't pretend to be. Hurt for as long as you need to. Process as long as it takes. Come to denoument on your own terms in your own time.

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