The world we live in is built out of story. When we moved on from the trees and the mountains and the fields and into homes and cities, we built them out of story. Tales of who we are, how we live and love and breed. We left nature behind and wove a new narrative.
Everything is story. Blue is for boys and pink is for girls. Love belongs to two people under God. Work is done Monday to Friday. School is where you learn how to operate in the world and if that system doesn’t work for you, there is something wrong with your brain.
We made it all up.
We had our reasons. Those stories served us at the time. Or, those stories served the people who held the power, and that was that. But the time has come to dismantle the old stories and tell new ones.
It’s happening everywhere. The staunch, binary pillars of gender expression are crumbling. Our concept of how and when and where we work shifts faster every day. New currency and new words crop up, laying pipe for new paradigms. Everything is changing rapidly, and yet it’s not enough. The world still burns.
What does that mean for storytellers?
Just as the ocean is full of plastic and the air tainted with exhaust, our world is overwhelmed with story pollution. Magazine aisles and movie theaters and the internet are packed to the brim with superfluous garbage.
We understand that the food we consume affects our bodies. Do we understand that the stories we ingest shape our minds and, in turn, the world?
Reality television facilitated the rise to power of one former president of the United States. His reign would not have been possible without that widely broadcast story. Storytelling and the world have always been in symbiosis, mutually beneficial or mutually destructive. But that is coming to an end.
We are in the final act of the Storytelling Age. It’s been a good run — since we first started drawing on cave walls and shaping the world with our minds — but the end of storytelling is inevitable.
I know it’s hard to fathom. What would a world without story even look like? Well…