Those Who Tell the Stories Rule Society – Plato
Storytelling isn’t just in books. We are telling our own stories now – right this minute. When someone asks us about our day – we edit or emphasize those activities that we feel are most important – or most entertaining. When we use social media, we intentionally choose updates that tell the story we want people to hear.
And there are bigger stories – much bigger stories – being told about our country. Is the pandemic real – or a hoax? Did Biden win the election fair and square? Are democrats socialists? Are republicans white nationalists? It depends on who you ask. And everyone’s opinion depends on the stories they read and hear.
We now know that narratives don’t just come in full pages, paragraphs or even sentences. President Trump’s use of twitter has dominated the storytelling landscape for 4 years. Not only has he reached his followers directly (multiple times a day), the nature of his tweets has drawn the nearly constant attention of the news media. So the story he tells gets told and retold 24 hours a day.
There are fuller, more thoughtful, more informed analyses to be found – if we look for them. Reputable news organizations cover each of these for a few days or a few weeks, then move onto the next.
The incoming administration is already signaling a commitment to controlling the narrative – keeping us focussed and telling our bigger stories about possibilities and progress.
We also have new appreciation for our formative narratives – including our Constitution. We are revisiting speeches from past leaders and heroes. All these words matter. They give us resolve and hope. They bring us back into conversation about ideals.
So, dear Plato. We hear you. And we are trying.