John F Waterman
The works of John F Waterman

Blog 02.13.17 February 14, 2017

Hello again, friends.

People tell themselves and one another stories about their history and their goals and their dreams (for better or for worse). It’s part of what makes us human. It helps confirm our identity, which is an ineffable part of being alive and conscious. I call these stories we tell ourselves and one another ‘narratives’.

We literally don’t know nor can we know who we are (as a person, a family, a group, or even a nation or species) without our narratives. These narratives change over time, naturally, as we change our lives, our histories, and our identity inexorably as our world changes around us. Change and adapt or die, right?

Narratives give us a very important thing besides the things who tell us who we are, because they also provide continuity. Continuity connects us to our pasts, which is an inseparable part of our identity. People without pasts have no identity. No one has ever manufactured themselves out of whole cloth, as it were, without establishing a narrative–which includes a past. Where you were born, who your parents were, where your people came from, what you value and why; it is all wrapped up in a narrative and the continuity it embodies.

When the world changes seemingly daily and large numbers of us have moved across the face of the world, sometimes many times in our lives–sometimes even daily–narratives are especially important because they lend us continuity. Without it we have no identity. They become even more tightly held because they tell us who we are in places where no one we know or no one we’ve grown up with are around anymore.

Narratives take on a new level of importance in this digitally interconnected world for two important reasons. First, we now can ‘hook into’ our narratives almost anyplace we go via telephone, texts and social media. Mind that last thing–social media–because it’s my supreme point. Second, a small group of people can take literal control of what you see on that social media, and overnight change the content you see on it. No, really. We do it ourselves to a certain extent–Google ‘echo chamber’–but those who know our ‘likes’ on Facebook and what Twitter feeds we follow can also put their tailored messages in front of us, 24/7. We’ve seen it during this last election in the United States, and it’s been happening before then.

Take care of noticing changes to your narratives. Analyze them, and then ask how you felt about a subject a month ago, or a year ago, or while you were still ‘at home’, growing up. It’s OK to change how you feel about things. We all learn and grow as people, and as societies. Just take care that your narratives change because you want them to, and for your own reasons after given your own due introspection. Don’t be a sheep; and if you’re a goat then at least know why.

Keep striving, friends.



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