As humans, we just can’t help ourselves. We must be involved in a story. Ultimately, we give our daily lives over to two things:
- Basic survival
Basic survival primarily includes sleep, personal hygiene, eating, housekeeping/maintenance child rearing and work.
Story by definition has a plot, plan and series of events (narrative) leading towards a tangible purpose or goal. Donald Miller in his book ‘A Million Miles in a Thousand Years’ defines a good story as having “A character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.”
*Note: before anyone gets their panties in a wad, ‘raising children’ and ‘work’ can be a story…IF. If the work transcends a mere paycheck and the child rearing transcends feeding, housing, clothing, public-schooling and booting out the dooring.
Looking at our culture, this is how most folks seem to be exposing themselves to story:
- Gossip – discussing other people’s stories
- News – observing other people’s stories
- TV & Movies – viewing other people’s stories, though the majority is other people acting out stories. Or we could say…’pretending’
- Books, Magazines and Newspaper – reading other people’s stories and make-believe stories
- Sports – watching athletes play out a story. No offense, but when Payton Manning refers to “My team…” and a fan references the same team as “My team…” it’s a far different reality of participation, wouldn’t you agree?
- Social Media – commenting on other’s stories (thanks to Michelle Knoll for pointing this out in the comments below)
There is nothing inherently wrong with any of these things listed above. But they are all…Storyeuristic.
This new terminology of course comes from voyeurism. Which means, generally speaking, watching instead of participating; yes?
Regarding voyeurism, I assume you, like me, would rather have the real thing. But what about storyeurism? Seeking to derive gratification and fulfillment from the stories of others, real and pretend.
More and more of the culture is giving themselves over to basic survival…spending the majority of their time merely performing routine functions and putting in their time, looking ahead to the evenings or weekends or even lunch breaks where they can voyeuristically participate in stories.
Remember this TV clip from Wild World of Sports that includes the classic “The thrill of victory…and the agony of defeat.”
We crave both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. We were bred for it, created for it. And we ALL…seek out and engage in it. Assess yourself and chances are you engage in it daily. Possibly for hours. But how much is as a spectator to others experiencing victory and defeat, and how much as an actual participant yourself?
If the majority of your engagement is as a spectator, are you OK with that? Though it’s the cultural norm, does it seem best and healthiest? Is it working for you? Is your story inspiring others to worthy pursuits?
Want the secret recipe for writing a great story? Want the easy, can’t miss pill that will make it happen without you having to figure it out? Here it is:
Commit yourself to a worthy cause at such a great degree that for all sakes and purposes…you are seemingly incapable of achieving the goal or fulfilling the task. The story…will write itself. More on that in the next blog.
Where do you find yourself today? Participating in stories, or spectating?