Traditional western storytelling conventions aren’t up to the task of understanding the enormity of the climate crisis or the pandemic

People love to talk about the power of stories: the force of the right hero’s journey spurring an individual into action; the power of a compelling narrative to change minds; the way empathy can break down barriers and re-shape society … I’ve done it myself for this very publication.

We do it because various iterations of these arguments are real and true. National Geographic says storytelling “helps us to find order in things that have happened to us and make sense of the events of a random world”, and that studies suggest “the more compelling the story, the more empathetic people become in real life.” According to the BBC, “storytelling is a form of cognitive play that hones our minds, allowing us to simulate the world around us and imagine different strategies, particularly in social situations … brain scans have shown that reading or hearing stories activates various areas of the cortex that are known to be involved in social and emotional processing …”

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