Again and again, we reach a moment when the scales fall from our eyes and reality is revealed to us. We are now in one of those moments when the stories we tell ourselves have fallen apart. Dominant narratives are failing.
It’s not their overwhelming appeal to our deep lizard brains, but rather, their ability to lead us through telling a compelling story.
Longtime readers know this is a favorite issue of mine.1 The written word, barely a few millennia old, has been of little importance for most of human history. But for centuries past, most people were illiterate; Even today, a shocking percentage are unaccounted for. And so we developed storytelling to share information among ourselves, to pass down the generations: when some animals were around for hunting; What to avoid poisonous snakes and do not eat mushrooms; When to plant crops, changing seasons, how to avoid dangerous weather and more.
Good narratives kept you alive and good stories were easy to remember and share. For most of human history, the stories we told ourselves were less important than the survival facts they contained. Today, it is these narratives that compel people to act, rather than any deadly poison they must avoid.
I started making a list of the narratives that fell apart this year; I had to limit myself to 10 from 2022, otherwise, the list would have been too long and unwieldy to manage.
I don’t believe I need to explain each of these 10 bullet points. I’m confident that you, dear reader, understand what the previous dominant narrative was for everyone, why those fictions failed, and the chaos that those failures created later.
2022 narrative #failed
SBF, FTX and Alameda research
Technology dominance and the new economy
60/40 is dead
DeFi will replace regulation
Russian military power
A red wave is coming
The inevitable return of Trump/MAGA
How about those Mets?
Each of these failures will be followed by a new dominant narrative, many of which will later appear as failures as well.
Multiple lists of 10 can easily be created. As for my 10, you can curve around the edges for any of them. Each of these was the dominant market/media/public belief before the story was revealed as flawed.
Again and again, reality intrudes to shatter these narratives. Instead of embracing reality as the truth unfolds, there are so many lies we can cling to. We must rejoice in these moments when they occur, for they are so few and so brief; Soon, they will be lost in our memory, which soon fails us. When the crisis is over, we return to our previous sources of false comfort.
Maybe some of it can rise again; Many of their followers have a red-hot belief in radicalism, be it politics or wealth, or sports. Remember, the word “fan” is a shortened version of the word “fanatic”.
Reality – aka The Truth – often stalks us, disturbing because of the comforting lies we tell ourselves. This is especially true when reality contradicts the comfortable narrative we cling to.
Sam Bankman-Fried Joshua Glamor (Reform Broker, November 16, 2022)
Why Investors Were Such a Sucker for FTX (WSJ, November 18, 2022)
in the past:
Six Degrees of Separation (November 14, 2022)
Unconventional Knowledge (November 9, 2022)
Misunderstood Narrative: The Hero’s Journey (September 22, 2021)
Once Again, The Narrative Fails (March 19, 2014)
The Narrative Fails (July 19, 2013)
The Perils of Non-Modeled Narrative Story Tellers (December 3, 2012)
1. “Narrative” as an evolutionary development is one of my personal descriptions.