Human’s reliance on stories could be our undoing

Mr. Blob, can you tell me a story?

Everyone loves a good story, especially The Blob.

The capacity for stories to motivate people has been evident since the first story was told.

Humans are not just linguistic animals; they are storytelling animals. Humans rely on stories to make sense of the world, and their place in it. Storytelling allows people to transcend their current conditions and expand their world view. This served humans well for hundreds of thousands of years, with superstitions providing comfort in an uncertain and dangerous world. However, with the modern advent of conflicting narrative managerial dynasties, the survival value of storytelling has been turned on its head. MSNBC and Fox News are prime examples of storytelling dynasties that feed opposing narrative regimens to their very distinct audiences. The result is an ever-widening rift between factions in the population that gravitate toward distinct and incompatible world views. It is all based on storytelling, and today, it is almost entirely controlled by The Blob.

Like most things humans have invented, storytelling can be used for good or ill. It can spur positive social movements, or support repressive regimes. It can motivate people toward universal compassion, or instigate inter-group hatred. In many ways, our current society has been shaped first and foremost by sophisticated, divisive storytelling. By sophisticated, I mean storytelling that has been shown to motivate people to believe in certain ideas, including ideas that are detrimental to their own wellbeing and the wellbeing of their family. By divisive, I mean that much modern human storytelling is aimed at dividing groups of people; us versus them, good versus evil, domestic versus foreign, one race or creed versus another. This is because storytelling based on good versus evil is so effective at capturing an audience and motivating people. This is the point where The Blob gets to tell you who the “evil one” is. This is where The Blob gets to make sure that everyone knows who the enemy is today. As George Orwell noted, the enemy may shift on an almost daily basis, and that should tell you something how serious the threat is.

Beware The Blob’s protestations for it doth protest too much. There is a pretty good chance The Blob isn’t thinking of your personal wellbeing when their minions in the Corporate Owned News inform you of the latest foreign threat. The Russians are coming, The Russians are coming! It’s kind of ironic that the 1960’s movie by that name was actually a bit of counter-Blob storytelling from before The Blob completely took over Hollywood. Don’t expect any new anti-war or pro-Russian movies any time soon.

We have to come to grips with the fact that the negative side of storytelling has greatly facilitated most human wars, whether they were religious wars of antiquity, or modern regime-change wars based on “smoking guns being mushroom clouds”. Storytelling about weapons of mass destruction got us into the Iraq war, and stories about computer hacking keep Juliane Assange imprisoned indefinitely without trial.

The main thing you need to remember about storytelling is that much of it is professionally crafted propaganda, not a bunch of morality tales intended to entertain and enlighten you. When the chattering heads on TV tell you that there is another foreign threat, or some dangerous immigrants coming to cause problems, you need to be able to step back and see that this is big business, not public service television.

It’s the 50th anniversary of the “Powel Memorandum”, when soon-to-be Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell wrote up a to-do list of how wealthy business people could counter the progressive activism of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The basic idea was to capture government, courts, news media, and universities to reshape our society in The Blob’s image. As the Powel memo makes perfectly clear, it takes a whole lot of antisocial thinking to come up with focus group-tested memes that get people to turn on their fellow humans and to accept the rein of The Blob and its dehumanizing precepts.

Most working Americans, regardless of political leanings, have similar wants including good paying jobs, availability of housing and needed goods, universal healthcare and fruitful use of tax dollars to benefit people in the country. These wants transcend politics. In fact, politics as it is portrayed on TV and in major Corporate Owned Newspapers like the New York Times, is a perfect example of modern storytelling, devoid of background and context, and full of pro-corporate, pro-aggression propaganda and plenty of fear mongering.

So what is the latest story coming out of The Blob? You guessed it, that bringing troops home from Afghanistan is a big mistake, that 20 years wasn’t long enough, that we are leaving people behind and that the Taliban are bad people. This is storytelling at its most blatantly self-serving for The Blob. The general population in the US got absolutely nothing from the war in Afghanistan except for dead and injured troops, higher taxes, crumbling infrastructure and reduced government spending on things people need, like healthcare.

If you turn on Corporate Owned News shows now, it is almost entirely a recitation of urgent fears you should have; fear of terrorists, fear of too many immigrants, fear of Covid, fear of right-wingers, fear of left-wingers, fear for women and girls in Afghanistan, fear of China, Russia and Iran. The list is lengthy.

Fear is a great motivator, and a great plot element in any story. The Blob has spent decades and gobs of money studying how to exploit these facts. They know how to manipulate different groups of people very effectively, and they don’t hesitate to do so.

At this pace, The Blob’s storytelling is going to be the death of us all.