I am at Netroots Nation 2012 right now in a session titled “How Progressives Get Narrative Wrong and How To Get It Right”. This is something we are talk about at Coffee Party USA and many other activist organizations I work with.
An idea like “we want an economy that works for everyone” is fine. However that does not get to the heart. It is not the right narrative. We know that trickle-down economics is a clear and present danger to every middle class American. However people do not think in those terms. They think with the heart. They think subjectively.
Liberals know that currently their values and policies are provably better for the middle class because these policies ensure deterministic equal access to success (not equal outcome). Conservative policies as codified by Paul Ryan’s budget are provably Darwinistic. Why then is there a difficulty in conveying this absolute truth? We are not connecting with peoples’ stories. We are just being analytical.
Archie Bunker in the sitcom “All in the Family” is an example of how a narrative that allowed America to visualize its own “racist story” and how the interaction with other races evolved, was instrumental in framing America’s psyche on this issue in a positive manner. Much change occurred when a narrative was connected to a story that people already know.
We confuse stimulus with response. We say the middle class is the backbone of the American economy.
“Reform is negative while improvement is positive.
The negative mental model we package our information in tend to affect the perception of what we are trying to get across. Taxing something versus budgeting is an example. Responsible budgeting is easier to digest than taxing the rich because taxing sounds punitive.
Must be interesting. You must have a reason to be interesting. You must have a real story. You must have backup to your story with useful information. You must be able to add to your story to continue to engage your community.
Creating a narrative is hard work. It is not about making it easy. It is about making it truthful, creative, and open to listen.
Made to Stick is a good book(OLD).
The Story telling animal
The Spreadable Media