We are living the end of the world (and/or why I do not think it's a coincidence that #GameOfThrones, #StarWars and #MCU are ending at the same time.)
2019 looks like it's the year that the 20th century finally ends.
As Tyrion said on the Game of Thrones finale, "There is nothing more powerful in the world than a good story"
It is through stories that we understand the world. From paintings in caves to emojis on cell phones.
We are all telling and listening to stories
And we are in an impasse, because we know that the stories that we heard don’t make sense anymore, but we love them so much that we are not ready to let them go.
The narratives used to be mostly hyperlocal, stories to be told around the bonfire or between friends in a tavern. Little by little, we have been inventing technologies that have spread these stories like straw fire. With means of transport like boats and airplanes or more durable papers and paints. Until we arrived in the 20th century and we invented the mass media.
Finally there was the beginning of a single narrative among all the humans on Earth, something that did not exist for millennia.
This movement became very strong, especially after the world wars. The invention of the teenager, the beginning of the golden era of comics and fantasy stories. They were all created there. A moment that we had to collectively create a new history to somewhat appease the hearts of those who lived some of the greatest terrors of human history. But like anything else, the markets realized that and made the Cultural Industry.
Soon thereafter, it became so strong that many governments created policies to use it as propaganda. (This actually began in WWII with the US using super heroes to punch Hitler that on his side had Leni Riefenstahl making some of the most amazing movies ever produced.)
And so, the stories began to be directed toward creating an understanding of the world the way "They" wanted, so we could live in their "world". This lasted through the 20th century, especially from the late 1970s when the blockbusters were invented with the films of the likes of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Soon the industry saw the potential of this type of story and how we need it to be our bridge with History and then things started to get serious.
There came satellite TV, cable TV, intranet, internet, smartphones and finally we are here. In this global tribe, experiencing the same stories. Together at the same time. But the human being is very bad to accept changes, and even with these stories no longer making sense to the world that we live today, we are here on a social network fighting for them. It does not make sense for a billionaire man to dress in a batsuit and spend billions to create gadgets to fight crime instead of simply creating systems of redistribution of wealth to educate and support the most needy population of his city. It does not make sense, for an alien to have a hidden base in Antarctica and not divide 1% of alien technology with the world so we can all have renewable energy and not combustion engines. It also does not make sense to have a single studio telling all the stories that we are watching on a global level like Disney is doing.
This was all just to say that stories are not just super heroes, or dysfunctional families who wage wars at the stars, or a war for the throne of a created realm.
It is also our political, financial and behavioral system in real life. These are the stories that make up our world. Stories like the one that if you sell your time and your work, you are a better and fair person. That you as an individual, can change your country with one vote every 4 years. That you have to be nice and right not to make the guy who lives in the sky angry.
Today, many of these stories no longer make sense. Be it because you have robots stealing our jobs. Or because, there are many mechanisms to ensure that whoever is elected is someone who fit a particular interest. Or that the concept of a higher being, maybe is just that. A concept.
Just as happened in the Middle Ages and the Industrial Revolution, we are living the end of an idea, of a collective story, and the beginning of another. And that's why I do not think it’s a coincidence that the great pillars of the collective narrative that we have lived in these last decades, are ending together.
We have to know that the Galaxy is bigger than the Skywalker family.
We have to know that super heroes can be blacks, gays, women and any other type of living being.
One has to know that kings and queens are human and that sometimes their legends are epic, but their stories are banal.
And above all, we have to know that this is the time for us to write a new story together. Someone out there is going to be our Sam (from the Lord of the Rings or the Game of Thrones, you can choose) and will put all this in the paper soon (or in a Word file). But first, we have to live this story for someone to tell it.
And that's where we are. At the moment Peter Parker gets bitten by the spider, or that Jon Snow discovers that he is a king or Luke discovers that there is something beyond Tatooine. We can be Jon Snow and do nothing and stay with our redhead in the north. Or we can get into the fight and go destroy the Death Star or web around New York. The choice is ours. But it's an option we'll have to make soon.
It will be fast. It will be intense. It will be painful. But it will not be different from any other change of story that we have already gone through. Be it the end of a marriage or a world war. The new freaks us out, but we're finally networked and we can help each other out. But it will be inevitable and we will have to change the story so we can start to take care of the climate, the planet, the people. This is the seed of the new narrative.
The Collective against the individual.
Ours against mine.
That's how a world dies and that's how a world is born.
By stories that we tell and the ones that we share.
And that's how we're getting into a new world and we're going to have to leave the old one behind.