Our fondness for narratives is driving us mad

Jonathan Gottschall in the Boston Globe:

Stories are celebrated by great artists, thought leaders, and scientists as our best hope for reducing bigotry, building empathy, and ultimately encouraging us to behave more humanely. But how does this match up with the current state of the world?

We are living inside a digitally driven big bang of storytelling — a stunning expansion of the universe of stories across all media and genres. A 2020 Nielsen study reported that average Americans now consume a whopping 12 hours of media per day, much of it in narrative form, including hours upon hours of fiction. Now that we have more storytelling than ever, has empathy increased apace? Are we doing a better job of understanding each other across ancient divides of race, class, gender, religion, and political orientation? If stories have such sunny effects, why has the big bang of storytelling coincided with an explosive growth of hostility and polarization rather than harmony and connection?

More here.