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What is a Story For?

David Sherry
2 min read

As Podcasting grows, we’re seeing a resurgence of the “Oral Tradition.”

We willingly listen to other people talk for hours, in our ears as a preference to real human contact or simply sitting in silence.

It’s insatiable.

We are apes, and we coordinate at scale by telling each other stories that influence our world view.

We live in an increasingly complex world, with billions of other people, floating in space on a rock in a giant solar system.

The only way we keep our ability to define our own place in this complex world is through…


It is our mimetic nature to share and spread stories that we want to believe in.

We spread and share stories that support our purpose for existence on this earth.

We spread and share stories that reinforce our existing worldview.

We use stories bring order to the complexity, and it’s in this way that we find comfort in each of our own individual narratives.

It is also in this narrative that forms the basis of our individual problems.

We compare our story to the story of another and this comparison shapes who we believe ourselves to be.

And so each of us goes about our day with two things floating around in our heads…

Problems and Desires.

These two feelings dominate our psyche, and they both have one thing in common.

The solution to both is a story. Quite literally, stories solve our problems.

When we buy a solution, we are buying a story.

Quite literally, stories fulfill our desires.

When our desires are fulfilled, it is the story we believe about ourselves which is fulfilled.

So is it the case that stories must be true?

No. And here is the point where I may lose you, but I will also continue and tell you the truth.

Stories are a collective hallucination.

And that is OK.

Most stories stretch beyond reality, and that is OK.

Stories are an invisible magic glue that binds our consciousnesses together in a complex world so that we may make progress, cooperate and make meaning out of our lives.

In this vast universe, in the realms of space, in cosmic complexity, senses, perceptions, and emotions, is anything true or false?

Is there morality? No. There is only the story of morality.

And this is a story which continues to adjust over the centuries.

What is moral today will not be moral in the future.

It is always in flux.

And can something that’s always in flux be deemed as a true or false?

No. And that’s OK.

I am telling you a story right now.

If you are believing it, you are believing it because it matches your worldview.

You may spread this story because it further develops the narrative that you are constructing which is giving you order and purpose in your life.

The story that I am sharing, just like any story, is not my own.

Just as the story of Star Wars is not the story of George Lucas.

It is, upon viewing, immediately integrated into the story of the viewer.

A story is a virus, which simultaneously becomes internalized as it is spread.

Maybe you are reading this newsletter while believing a story that in doing so, you will feel better today, have a deeper understanding of yourself, be more effective at work.

And although this story is a placebo, the effects on you are real.

The problems you overcome and the desires you fulfill within your story are real.

Even when we see through the curtain and understand reality, stories are no less powerful.

And this is the power of story.

As always, let me know if I can be of help,

xx David