Learnings about Narrative Technology
People actually love positive future scenario stories
One of the things I learnt is that people actually love and even crave positive future stories. Over the years I have spoken to lots of people, in private and at events, and everybody gets super excited when they hear about a doom-and-gloom-alternative. There is so little of it out there!
As my dear reader, I invite you wholeheartedly to get amongst it – use this world as a playing field for your own imagination, for your region, your life, for your people. Art work, stories, dreams, ideas, comments – the only way to make positive future scenarios happen all over the Earth, is to start manifesting the good stuff, together, as one humanity. I’ll be more than happy to publish things here on solarpunkcity, so that we can grow this new world manifestation like a tapestry, inching it towards existence, one dream, one story, one drawing, at a time.
Written Word, Spoken Word - but above all, the lived Word
This seems obvious, right? But we should not move on too quickly from this point. There are definite advantages to verbal story telling as opposed to the written form. For once – Scrolls, books, even stones and in our age digital devices can easily get damaged or lost.
The accuracy of how stories survived the ages is remarkable.
The Aboriginal people of Australia have the longest surviving oral tradition on Earth today, dating back 80,000 years or more!
When stories get written down, they become set, sometimes literally, in stone. They become interpreted by this or that intelligent person, words and meanings get dissected, pulled apart, taken out of context, taken too seriously, taken as pure truth, taken as permanent.
The written word has much power. So does the spoken word. But neither of them rival the power of the lived word – the lived word, that is Being, that is finding meaning in one’s existence, that is the LOGOS – Words embodied through you and me.
The importance of narrative
We don’t realise fully how important, or should I say, life-defining, the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, are.
We inherit most of our stories, others we invent ourselves or copy from others, and then we live by them, under them, mostly without even noticing – and sure, they can be useful, beneficial even, hey, they have kept us alive up to this point, right? But the stories we tell ourselves can also act like prisons, keep our horizons narrow and our possibilities limited. They keep us from considering other ways of thinking, acting, and being.
It’s called conditioning, or culture.
How many of us believe that we are powerless, insignificant, that human nature is rotten, and that we can’t change for the better and don’t even want change because we are too lazy, or too different from each other, we are just workers, consumers, human resources, working for the man, cogs in the wheel, tiny fish in the swarm, now don’t ruffle the waters or we might not get our Christmas bonus gift card.
Humans all over the world have much more in common than not. Sure we have diversity, and I am not saying that we should become one monotonous, uniform species. Actually that’s kind of where we’re heading right now, so let’s just leave that to the ants or the sheep, and celebrate how diverse we are and how that diversity is part of why we are such a fascinating, beautiful, colourful species.
What is stopping us from accepting the story that tells us that we have everything to gain if we work as one species? Probably another, for some reason very popular story that tells us that we must squabble over scraps while the 1% line their pockets…
So – don’t underestimate the power of the stories you tell yourself about yourself and others.
Stories? Why stories?
Stories are tools, technology. Old, very old, ancient even, yes, ancient technology. That’s the right way for a 21st century human being to consider stories. Stories reframe concepts for our human brains, so that we can actually understand what’s happening. They put a frame around concepts to show up the Groessenordnung (the order of magnitude or scale) of things, so that we can then understand what is happening. They touch us on a different level than rational scientific data.
The entire Marketing world is steeped in the use of story – it’s just that there it gets used to sell you shit you don’t need. Marketing peops package up the important bits (buy a bottle of cola) in details that butter you up nice and slick and get you in the mood (buy this and you will have a crowd of attractive friends you party with at the beach).
Sad state of affairs that all the dystopia at the movies and the general corporate-driven media machine out there sells us the story that this is it and there is no other way of doing things…so wrong they are! SHAME!
Geniuses like Einstein realised how powerful our imagination and stories are:
“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
“Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.”
Why do metaphores and stories work so well for humans?
Recognise the pattern instead of getting lost in HD detail.
Touch people on a different level that scientific data, studies, or news articles don’t do.
Stories and myths use symbolism to teach, because symbols have a much longer use-by date, and cannot be distorted as easily as mere words explaining facts.
Interesting question I will ponder further in the future. For now this hits it on the nail enough to go with (metaphor came in mucho handy there).
Countering dominant narrative → From consumer to creator
Imagining alternative futures is necessary work for humanity. Ideas form the beginning of any creative process. Imagination is one of humanity’s greatest gifts – and what are we doing with it? Frittering it away in status updates, anxieties, and television.
What could we do with it?
Imagining, manifesting, and ultimately, creating a different way of Being for all humanity on this planet – regardless of our petty likes and dislikes and cultural and historical hang ups. We need to shift that shit – collectively, because it no longer serves us at all. We are facing extinction, our planet will likely recover, but we will be less than faint memories, lost in the aeons of time and space once more.
So why not give up? Because that’s not a very ingenious thing to do. That’s cowardly. After all, we are ingenious, we have the knowledge, the research, even the technology – what we lack is wisdom, social cohesion, will, and the trust in each other, to bring about this change we need so desperately, to birth the new paradigm, to consciously partake in our own evolution.
It’s time for us to realise that we are all creators of our own reality 24 hours a day! Wow! Did you realise that? So that means, we are co-creating this thing commonly called reality, we are all in it together! Damn girls and boys! We are the creators of own presents and futures, at the cutting edge of history! We are powerful and each of us has a role to play in this adventure, otherwise we wouldn’t be here…so quit fitting the consumer label and CREATE a reality worthy of your beautiful Self.
We lack collective goals...
Our education system is flawed in many ways, and goal setting is often not something we learn, even at university level. But goals are so important for our development, for the unravelling of our human “being.” Humanity lacks collective goals to strive towards – we don’t usually get taught to consider cohesive future visions and manifestations for the world we actually want to live in and will leave behind to those who come next.
I’m pretty sure that we don’t all wish to live as zombies in doom town, I mean, duh, really.
In order to have any chance of creating desirable futures* in the physical world, we first have to imagine them, and invite them into our minds and hearts. That’s the first step of goal setting. Then, step by step, ever so slowly, we begin to develop these visions in our lived lives, at first maybe even without noticing. Small or large changes, a change of clothes, a change of attitude towards someone or something, a change of job, a change of country…and suddenly, we notice that we have changed, and through that we have also changed the world. And that’s how we create meaningful, lasting, desirable changes in our own lives and the world at large. It’s often boring and dreary and scary and hard – but when you look back, you are glad that you set out on that path, and explored yourself, and your life, and created something that hopefully has more meaning to you because you actually had a say in what you decided to do.
Yes, and from that also, the idea of collective goals springs…you get the drift. Onwards and upwards we go!
[*I use the plural for “futures” because we each experience time subjectively, so there are as many futures out there to imagine as there are people on the planet.]