I’ve been harping on the ‘false narrative’ off and on for a while now. But what is a false narrative?
A narrative is a story – and like most stories it contains a cast of characters, events, circumstances and a story line. Events that either will (future tense) or have (past tense) taken place. But like all stories, a narrative isn’t the real thing (real life). It’s fiction, the ‘telling‘ of the parts of the story the author wants to share.
The false narrative is a combination of these fictions and non-fictions, truth and deception, inaccuracies or omissions in the story, but it is not the real thing. A narrative is almost always passed off as the real thing, and almost as often, accepted as the real thing, but this isn’t true. A narrative is the ‘telling’ – and a false narrative is also the ‘telling’ inaccurately (omissions).
Although I think this should be obvious, the media (information) that we consume today is in large part authors of the false narrative. A fictional account of truths and half-truths and outright deceptions and omissions as ‘reported’. Every media outlet, every reporter, every writer is always writing from a personal perspective and understanding. What gets published is actually just a reflection of what these persons understand (and got past their editors) – but it should not be considered by anyone as a telling of the whole truth.
Nobody really knows the real narrative, that is to say the whole unvarnished truth, both past and future anyway. Only the parts they actually lived and experienced, but that experience isn’t the whole of the story either, it’s just a part of it. The rest is ‘filled in’ by the author, based on what was told, what was read or what is claimed to be known. What this means is that whatever you read or hear is being filtered by every author and what they claim to know. It doesn’t necessarily mean it is right, wrong, accurate or inaccurate – it’s just a ‘telling’ with these limitations.
A narrative is just like a movie, which reveals only what the director wants you to see. It’s not the whole story. It’s a telling of a story, and innumerable smaller stories in a controlled setting, but you are only seeing or hearing what the director is willing to show you. Narratives are the same, they’re movies that play in the minds of their authors and when told, they are projected onto the screens of the public spaces (your ears, in print, on television, on radio). You are told what they want you to hear and see – but there is more more to every story, every narrative then this.
Life (reality) is a story, but like all stories, only what gets told (published or shared) is what people learn from each other. And like all stories, when told, they are always incomplete. A partial “telling” of things, but also a partial not telling. It’s how humans interact and this practice is widely accepted and if you think about it, it’s essential. We can’t even begin to tell it all, with every nuance and effect, every connection and meaning, every possible iteration to try and explain every given point or topic or event. It would be too exhausting and we’re not suited for this in any case because we are all different in our comprehension and understanding of words, definitions, meanings, awareness and knowledge.
Instead, we accept narratives – stories from any source, intuitively knowing that it’s never the whole truth. We do this because we trust the narrative, and in part, we trust the story teller. This creates confidence in the narrative and we base our decisions, world view and opinions upon these narratives.
There are billions of false narratives. We’ve all experienced them, we’ve all lived them. A few examples of the false narrative: Parents are responsible for their children; when I grow up, I’m going to do what I want; you and I will be friends forever; I will love you forever; if I had more money, I’d be happier; that guy (or gal) is really great; I absolutely love this car; I’ll never speak to you again; humans will reach the stars; and so on.
We can find exceptions to every one of these narratives to demonstrate that they are in fact false narratives, but that does not stop us from accepting them as truths. They’re more then hyperbole, we believed them so much that we made life decisions to follow them. But we know from experience and knowledge that they’re not really completely true. They’re only true for us for the duration in which we accept them as true. But even this isn’t accurate because they can become untrue, ie., a false narrative when we learn that they are untrue. There are situation where parents are not responsible for their children; where you don’t get to do what you want when you grow up; where money doesn’t buy happiness and so forth. The point here however, is that they were actually untrue from the beginning. It was only when we found their numerous exceptions did we even realize it.
In effect, we tell ourselves (and each other) stories that we like and want to hear. It’s ubiquitous within the human race to do this. And it’s just as ubiquitous to claim these narratives are all true when in reality, they are not. Most, if not all narratives, are actually untrue because they’re incomplete and because they have exceptions. But we rarely dig that far and go that deep, we instead settle for what we can accept and even live with. Even in our minds we seek to find comfort and acceptance, conformity and collusion. It’s just too much to try to unpeel every onion, every story, every narrative to “get to the whole truth”. It’s not how we actually conduct ourselves and as far as I know, we never have.
So in reality, we all live and embrace false narratives as a matter of course. It’s what we do and it works. Until such time as it doesn’t. Until a narrative runs gobsmack into a wall of contradiction and confusion. Until one of the ‘exceptions’ occurs and creates the sudden awareness that what we thought to be true and even an absolute, isn’t.
If we are courageous enough, and inquisitive enough, we might choose to examine these contradictions. Or not – we might be too scared to learn more. I don’t know which happens more often, I just know that both occur all of the time. But quite rarely do we dig out these narratives deep enough to declare we fully understand their true nature and meanings. That takes a lot of work.
Human lives are in reality, a unending set of narratives – false narratives. Stories that we have told ourselves (or been told) that we’ve accepted and lived by. Over time, during the course of our lives, we unlearn (discard) some of these, but not all of them. We doggedly hang on to some of the most cherished narratives and refuse to examine them deeply. This works, again, until it doesn’t. But we do not always go on with our discovery and search for knowledge and truth. We will often stop right there, back up and turn away. We stubbornly cling to the ‘old narrative’ despite the cognitive dissonance this creates.
I’m not going to delve off in this post as to why this happens. I want to instead continue on the point that the false narratives that we embrace, that literally surround and permeate us all, are there – everywhere. We run into problems when we either don’t act like we know this, or when we trot out yet another false narrative and that is to say it’s not true. It’s true, we are guided by and governed by, and live by our false narratives our entire lives.
Not to be flippant, but that’s just the way it is. We rarely want to comprehend what the true narrative is because a) we don’t know what it is; b) we don’t understand it; c) it contradicts and challenges our other narratives that govern us within. Recall that these are just stories that we believe. Some are true, but incomplete and others are not true and incomplete. We don’t know everything, we can’t understand everything, so we accept these limitations. On one hand, this is the best that we can do, but on the other, that’s not true either (another false narrative). We can choose to examine what we know, what stories we believe, what narratives dictate our lives and decisions, or we can choose not to. The narratives we believe are a choice, they are not a dictate.
So far, I’ve focused on us, we as individuals, but these points are even more true for larger entities such as the media and what can be found in the public space. There are some fascinating and astoundingly false narratives found here. They trickle into our space (into our heads) and take on their own lifecycle. They have become dictates (orders). We believe them (for now) because they fit within our other stories we believe adequately enough and we hold onto them until such time as we don’t. We are constantly bombarded with these stories, which I often label here as propaganda. It’s clear that this is very intentional, stories told to ensure common awareness and acceptance despite them being untrue. This is a widely practiced tactic by media and government and plenty of websites.
We must always remember however that these public narratives didn’t create themselves – they were created by humans who then promoted them into the public awareness. They are not without human form or origin in other words. Therefore, they should be deeply examined for their accuracy and completeness. They are external to you, you didn’t create them yourself. You have a choice then to examine, expel or accept them.
Using the simplistic examples used above (and the only one easily identified as external): humans will reach the stars. Whose narrative is that? Yours? Did you author this – or did you learn this? Most likely you learned it. But whatever the case may be, is this narrative true? No, it is not true. Not only will humans not reach the stars, neither will our robots until long after we are extinct. The time, distance and unfolding realities of what is happening here on planet Earth reveal this truth. But that doesn’t stop this narrative from being promoted in the public space or in the minds of those that embrace it – and that is because they have failed to examine the built in assumptions and belief this narrative conveys and requires.
Unexamined narratives have led to many disastrous decisions fueled by unwarranted and inaccurate beliefs. They’ve caused wars, widespread suffering and death. They’ve created a false sense of community, conformity and comfort. They’ve withheld innovation and development. They’ve hindered both awareness and advancement. In total, false narratives have sidetracked humanity for thousands and thousands of years. But none of this has stopped the false narrative from coming into existence or acceptance.
Now you know why I believe false narratives need to stop. They need to be fully examined for whatever truths or lies they contain. They are an impediment for humanity and any possible future direction or action we might yet take. They should not be allowed to infect our ability to take a different course of action and make different decisions. The false narratives have led humanity to where it is today, fraught with severe problems that threaten our stability and future and even our survival. We are oft reminded that we don’t need to challenge these narratives as they are ‘cultural’ or ‘established’ or ‘accepted’ but I disagree. If, as can be proven, these narratives created the conditions we have today, then we desperately need to challenge them fully. They need to be reexamined and rebuilt or discarded.
So what are those narratives I speak of? Religion, climate, environment, technology, alternative energy, civilization, population, politics, war, all the things I’ve covered in part on this blog for over a decade. They are all false narratives in the public space, and have their detractors and adherents, but what they don’t have is the whole truth. Where they came from, who is behind it, who profits and who doesn’t, why it will or will not work, what this means for humanity and so much more.
The media is very careful to protect and preserve an official, but inaccurate narrative, and so are most authors. It’s dishonest and only perpetuates the gross misunderstanding and knowledge people have. It’s largely why we are where we are today, teetering, even collapsing in many parts of the world because the official, but inaccurate narrative was promoted and believed so widely. The world and world leaders have helped guide the world along the lines of these false narratives, corporations have even “branded” them. People even wear them on their t-shirts, and endless movies have been made about them. But it is all a lie, a half-truth at best that perpetuates the status-quo and the direction of our civilization.
The false narrative is exceedingly dangerous. It’s actually the in the climate between your ears: Creating the False Narrative – The Climate Between Your Ears