Why Stories are just as important as Food and Sex
Why stories matter
When I’m talking to friends in the pub, the conversation usually ends up in a heated debate about what is more important to human existence: food, sex or stories. Yes, we’re a cool crowd.
Predictably, I always fall on the side of stories. Cassandra always fights for food and Dave… Dave always argues in favour of sex. But that is just VERY Dave.
This argument has been raging for years. It needs resolving. Seeing as neither Cassandra nor Dave have their own blog, I’m going to use this to my advantage. I’ll lay out my case for stories here, they’ll have no space to respond, and I’ll win. Mature, I know.
The three truths about stories
From 250,000 BP to 2022 trillions of stories have been told. In the same way there are three core truths about me (I drink too much tea and I’m bad at maths), there are three core truths about stories.
1. Stories are powerful
Deep down, on a primal level, stories are important to us all. They feel valuable, and that’s because they are. In the days when we had to run away from sabre-toothed tigers, we shared stories as vital survival techniques. If Bill managed to escape a tiger by climbing up a tree and waiting until the sun went down, while his friend Ben got ripped to pieces on the ground, you know for a fact Bill would tell his tribe about it. The tribe then learnt a valuable survival technique and knew to “be like Bill”. The value of stories (as survival techniques) then became hardwired into our brains for generations to come.
2. Stories affect us
When Bill rushed back to his tribe to tell the story of surviving the tiger, his tribe felt more connected. This story of a successful, and failed, great escape happened to members of their own community. They all knew the main characters, so the story about Bill and Ben made the whole tribe feel closer. They know it’s valuable because it contains survival tips, but it also feels valuable to them personally. So, they pass it on and help the next generation survive too.
3. Stories inspire action
After Bill told his story, his community learnt a bunch of things, in this case about sabre-toothed tigers, and it directly impacted their behaviour. Thanks to Bill’s story, they changed their routes to avoid tiger habitat and climbed trees to safety whenever they crossed a tiger’s path.
The evolution of stories
These survival tales being passed down through generations means two things.
1. We are the descendants of the most paranoid, scared and gossipy people to ever walk the land. That feels about right, doesn’t it? It’s why when you hear an unexpected sound in the dark you feel like you’re about to be attacked.
2. We are the descendants of story lovers, so we find telling and listening to tales deeply enjoyable. Unfortunately, evolution has done Cassandra and Dave the same favour. Evolution has made their candidates deeply enjoyable too.
Fuel became cuisine
Cassandra will tell you that her relationship with food is far more than the biological need to provide energy. It is all about community, family and deliciousness. And she’s right!
Procreation became sex
I won’t go into too much detail on this one, and unlike Dave don’t have an extensive slide show to go with it, but to make procreation more successful, evolution turned it into so so much more. Procreation became fun! So Dave’s right too.
So, next time you’re running away from a funny noise a squirrel made in the car park, remember that’s because of stories. They’re powerful, moving, and more important than food or sex (though they’re both pretty great too).
And if you think I’m weird for getting myself into these types of arguments down the pub – what did you expect from the scared, paranoid human who set up a company called Catsnake: The Story Agency?