The Power of the Narrative

A bunch of kids don't care about facts, they want to be part of something....

A bunch of kids don't care about facts, they want to be part of something....

We find our lives in 2017 awash in a world of facts. We fool ourselves that we live in the "Information Age" as if some divine law of electrons and silicon can elevate us to a Promethean perch in the sky offering us transcendence. But in reality we throw facts at each other as if they were cheap trinkets out of a dollar store as we arrive late to the birthday party. Our electronic devices and smartphones are active enablers of our addiction to facts, constantly pumping them into our cortex accompanied by a mild dopamine buzz on delivery, a feeling of pleasure as each arrives. And as we've seen, the promulgation of facts spurs "alternative facts", in as much as Marvel Comics engenders competition from DC, offering another view of the universe through their own carefully crafted set of facts. We drink a drunkard's flagon of fun facts, factoids, life hacks and listicles hoping to raise our consciousness, but instead are weighted down with their heavy carbo-load of complacency, secure only in the false feeling that the more we have the better we'll feel. We ignore the reality that there is no inherent truth in them devoid of context and circumstance, and refuse to acknowledge that facts move no one to take an action: not to fall in love, or to move mountains, to declare war on injustice or to advance a cause. Only stories can.

Yet here in the competitive world of small spirit brands, we rely on facts as if they can push us above the clouds and catapult us into space, high above the shelf space that our lowly competitors must fight every inch for. "If people just knew the facts - my processes, my farm, my grain, my still, my fermentation, my packaging, my location - then they would seek me out, buy my product, use it in their drinks, put in in their bars and shops and make me an easy Casamigos Billion".

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But no one buys from facts, or should I say facts alone. Frederich Nietzsche declared "there are no facts, only interpretations" and interpretations are individual and subjective, delving into imagination and desire. People purchase from the lower order of their psychological pyramid, closer to the reptilian brain that seeks security away from fear and hunger; an area that has evolved to include stigmatization, being ostracized, feeling embarrassed and even FOMO. Security gives us a sense of well-being that "I've made the right decision, that others will view me in a brighter light, that I will be elevated among my peers".

But nothing gives us more of a sense of security, nothing else walks into our private theatre of interpretations and leads us out gently by the hand, than being wrapped in the warmth of a powerful narrative. The narrative brings us closer to the fire of our fellow cave dwellers, driving out the dark while at the same time binding us together in the feeling of shared experience. It makes us feel as if we're part of something, something primal, something communal, something that envelops us and has our back.

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For over twenty-five thousand years, we've been so shaped as a species by our need for narrative that one can argue it is imprinted in our DNA, something Joseph Campbell described as "the power of the myth". If we are homo sapiens, the "wise man", we achieved that wisdom not from the spark of an extra-planetary piece of dust, but from our innate need to tell and receive the stories of our creation, our existence and our future. Narratives move us and when we are moved, we take action.

The right narrative moves us to action

The right narrative moves us to action