Lying Apes

Rae Ann Fera reporting on the supposed histories storytelling project:

What if someone said to you “tell me a story about yourself that isn’t true?” What would you say? […] Fred Stesney recounts a failed pitch for a Nazi-themed animated show in the ’60s, Julia Sandberg Hansson admits to sort-of cannibalism, and Stu Outhewaite recounts a series of failed childhood birthdays.

A typical job description – “Your job as digital storyteller is to captivate our readers with emotional blah blah yadda,” – seems to imply that applicants need special training, or some magical story-telling “gene.”

But great stories just feel right, and when great, even corporate, storytellers are doing their thing, it’s like they’re resorting to a basic human faculty.

There’s a paper by Katja Mellmann with a promising hypothesis:

As fitness-enhancing behaviors should, as a rule, be intrinsically motivated under certain conditions, the unusually high frequency of storytelling might indeed be revealing of an innate preference for this behavior.

Mind you, this is a somewhat wild hypothesis, and I haven’t delved into the topic yet to make an even vaguely informed decision, but from what I’ve read so far, it just feels right.

As a human being, you already are a great storyteller. Everyone in your content team – everyone in your company! – is a great storyteller.

To tell a great story, don’t tap into what you know or think you need to know. Tap into what you are.