Wired for story

There’s an interesting story in The Atlantic about the evolutionary advantages of story telling. Humans have been sharing stories for possibly a million years. Story tellers thrived and survived.

We long to be pulled along by a narrative. Even a poorly told story is more compelling than just disconnected facts. We are wired for story from generations of story tellers binding us together and guiding us as a culture.

And now stories are filling up even more of our attention each day. From The Atlantic article:

Thanks to Gutenberg and the inventions of film and television, we immerse ourselves in more narratives than our ancestors could have imagined, which means we’re cutting back, along the way, on real-life experience.

This means our choice of which stories to consume is more crucial than ever. They need to be as useful as lived experience, or more so, or we’re putting ourselves at a disadvantage.

Mediocrity abounds in popular culture. Seek out quality. Time-wasting entertainment is like junk food. Fill your time with real life and meaningful experiences. Make a great story of your own life. And when you do seek to get lost in someone else’s narrative, choose wisely. The classics are classics for a reason. They’ve stood the test of time and are probably worthy of your attention.

Seek out the greatest authors and filmmakers. And when you find an artist that connects with you, go feast on everything they’ve produced rather than sampling lightly and bouncing around to other creators. Do a deep dive into an artist’s work. If War and Peace grabs you, don’t stop there. Go read all of Tolstoy. Loved 2001? Make time to watch all of Kubrick’s films.

Our story is a million years in the making. Fill your life with stories worth your attention.