You probably heard this quote before: small minds discuss people, average minds discuss events, great minds discuss ideas. Let’s think about it for a second.
This statement proposes that engaging in idle talk about people and events is shallow to some degree. Gossiping doesn’t elevate the mind, and thus it is of little worth.
I agree, but let’s consider what’s great literature: it’s always about people. We are social animals, and ultimately we all do things for someone else.
The best writers use events and people to discuss universal ideas. Camus comes to mind: in his novel The Stranger, the fresco of characters and events is an allegory of the Absurd. Balzac’s Human Comedy is the living portrait of an age, but also a reflection on human nature. The examples are many.
Discussing ideas is important, but a good story will always make them more memorable by leveraging deep primal emotions in the reader.
More generally, storytelling is all about people. People are both the audience and the messenger.
Even when you write non-fiction, there is no substitute for actual humans: illustrating ideas with the life of someone is more powerful than merely telling them.