Story Wars: The dark side of the force?

I love just about anything to do with stories and storytelling but this video by Jonah Sachs left me more than a little depressed. What does it do for you?


It comes from the Future of Storytelling site (def worth a look!). It’s beautifully done and has some great explanations of why stories are important and powerful. And I’m aware it’s meant for an audience of which I’m not really a part. But…

It’s the points he makes about brands using stories to move away from narratives of fear to sell stuff to ones of empowerment that give me pause; as if this was some sort of transcendental change and that somehow the human race is better off if brands tell us to “Just Do It” rather than “Eurgh! You smell! You’ll never have sex like that.Spray this on”.

The story is different, more affirming, but the end point is exactly the same, just more underhand. We consume in the belief that we are making the world a better place somehow, rather than doing it to fix a problem that was manufactured for us by advertisers.

We’re still consuming. Nothing has changed.

I hope I’m advocating something different when it comes to storytelling, and it’s to do with individuals developing a stronger sense of their own identity and worth.

I presented a little while ago at an event where I was putting the case for stories in education. One of my final points was that if learners are better at experessing themsleves through story they become more aware of stories around them and what might lie behond those stories. How trustworthy they are. What their underlying motive is.

I’m all for a world with more stories in it. But I aso think we need to help develop people’s awareness and discernment.

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