Lauren Nef We need Storytellers

Are you ready? Seated comfortably? Have a snack?

Okay. Let me tell you my story.

I was born and raised in the technology capital of the world - Silicon Valley, California. I live 15 minutes away from many major technology headquarters (Apple, eBay, LinkedIn, Netflix, Adobe - the list goes on). Access to technology and media is simply a way of life, granting me an innate thirst for information.
This thirst drove me to join the newspaper staff my sophomore year of high school. I had never planned to become a journalist, but one day I was assigned the front page story about a freshman boy.

And it changed everything.

As I finished my 10-minute interview with the boy about his recent ankle surgery, my journalism instructor strolled by and said in passing, “Did you ask him about his drug problem?” The interview continued for another 20 minutes. We dove into his history of drug abuse, which began at infancy and continued to his then current prescription drug dependence. His strength throughout this ordeal stunned and changed me. I had preconceived notions of how addicts were supposed to behave, but this interview tore my prejudices apart.

After going home, I fine-tuned the article for hours. I had never before felt such urgency and importance in writing. His story had the power to change people's perspectives, as it had drastically altered mine.

However, given the subject matter, the school didn’t let me publish the article (I am still miffed about that). But the experience helped me discover my passion.

I want to tell stories.

The ones that don’t get told. That hide in the shadows. That inspire. That incite change. That make the world better. Whether through digital, print or social media, humanity's stories bring me joy.

Off I went to pursue my new passion.

After serving as editor for my high school newspaper, I went to BYU Idaho and worked for one semester on the news beat for the university paper, The Scroll.
Then I left on my mission to the South of France, which served to increase my love for telling stories - those involved in teaching gospel truth as well as learning the backgrounds of those whom I taught.
After my mission, I transferred to BYU Provo - my thirst for information still thriving.

But I came home to a divided country, where truth is no longer considered truth and where deafness and violence are seen as solutions.

As I discovered in high school eight years ago, one thing can assuage and even heal the proverbial wounds we have all felt over the past year: stories. Seeing the world from another’s perspective through reading and listening cultivates understanding and compassion.

Empathy - that is the solution.

Empathy comes from viewing the world through the eyes of another, from a perspective that is not one’s own. Journalism is a vehicle for empathy. One can see a world or a lifetime in fast motion without leaving one's seat, all through reading. A click of a button or a turn of a page can change everything.

Our world needs empathy. It needs storytellers. Truth seekers. Life changers.

And I plan to be one.

Created By
Lauren Nef


Created with images by Eric Fischer - "Freeways, Northwesterly Section, Santa Clara County, California (1952)" • NS Newsflash - "Newspapers B&W (4)" • kev-shine - "pills" • StockSnap - "people police protest"

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