The most popular Facebook meme among my friends over the holidays was a list of 100 must-read books. The idea is that you take it as a quiz and post your score on Facebook to wow your mates. Here is a version of the list. I have to say I did rather well!
But this is not my point. Yes, we’re all highly competitive and love to share scores but it also shows us that most people have read a good number of books, which says a lot about our enduring love for a story.
Stories are everywhere – woven into the fabric of our lives. You really don’t have to sit down with a paperback to be affected by them. Do you realise that many products being sold to us today come with their own fictionalised history – from training shoes to sweaters? Marketers are frequently asked to invent back stories to add history to a product.
The one I came across most recently was for the Hollister brand – essentially a pile of over priced T-shirts and hoodies sold out of ultra dark clothing shops with a queue, the brand has an elaborate and totally fictional history. We are lead to believe that the brand was established in 1922 by a free spirit from the Hollister family with surfing in his veins – it was actually established 10 years ago by Abercrombie and Fitch as an extension to their brand.
Humans love stories and we cling to them as they seem to add authenticity and depth – even when they are made up!
Look at how lost we feel when our stories are taken from us. Adopted children search high and low for the truth of their parentage so they can fill in the gaps about their story. Millions of people hunt down their ancestors on the internet looking for the ‘real’ story to bolster their sense of self. Sometimes we learn about ancestors who have lied about their stories because they were ashamed or wanted something better.
There is no moral to this story – I merely wanted to remember how powerful all forms of story telling can be, whether that’s the tale you tell to your child at bed-time tonight, or the marketing rubbish you suck up with your cereal – or the tales you weave on Twitter and Facebook about yourself, your business or the brands you represent.
Enjoy the stories you tell this year, because if you’re anything like me you’ll be telling plemty.