I haven’t written much on my alternate reality blog since the 2016 election. It just seemed wrong to me to write fictional stories that might be seen as real in this dystopian landscape we find ourselves in. Even though I clearly label my stories as being fictional, I just couldn’t find the energy to invest in this type of writing in these times. Part of it was the way they might be seen on the current storytelling landscape, but mostly it was about me struggling with a fake news infestation in my personal life–with some family and friends embracing a non-factual, anti-science faith to cope with our world.
I’ve come to terms in the last year that I can’t go home and discuss politics, or even the work I do as the API Evangelist. My disconnect with folks who I grew up with, and their lack of awareness of the mental illness that is pervasive in their rurally isolated environments, has allowed move on. Removing myself from the madness has helped me address some of my own mental health issues, and understand the importance of storytelling in all of our lives. As I explore the world around me I need to be able to tell stories about what I’m seeing, and work to make sense of it all. I see the importance of both fictional, and non-fictional storytelling in my life. However, for me, the difference between these worlds is just as important as the fictional, and non-fictional accounts–others lack of awareness of what is real, and what is not, shouldn’t hold me back from working through the world on my terms.
My alternate storytelling was designed to counteract the blind belief in technology I am seeing around the world. Seemingly well adjusted people believing in the hype and marketing around what the Internet does or doesn’t do, and what newer trends like artificial intelligence, and blockchain are capable of. How much difference is there between people in the city believing that artificial intelligence will transform their life, or blockchain is inevitable, than there is with people in rural areas not believing the moon is real, or that the deep state controls all of our fate. In the end, for me, it is all about the power of storytelling. We just need more storytellers who are honest, not bought and paid for, out there telling meaningful stories that matter to everyday people. Helping people realize that the world might seem scary, but the best path forward involves education, addressing our mental health issues, and won’t always be about technology saving the day.
The world is only as scary as we make it, and reflect the stories we tell. If we believe the world is out to get us, and that it could end at every moment, this becomes the truth. It becomes the truth for us, and our children. However, if we tell stories that help us make sense of the scary things out there, and help craft stories that are rooted in facts, and are derived from real world experiences, we can help ground people in their lives. Stories have historically helped us through hard times, the challenge right now is that there are people who are heavily invested in telling untrue stories, and spreading misinformation to further their ideology, or simply to generate ad impressions. We don’t need less storytellers, we need more. We need more truth tellers, but also more fictional storytellers who aren’t trying to control you or scare the shit out of you. Politics, technology, and the world around us can be very complicated, and scary at times, and stories help us make sense of it all.
I can’t let the scared, isolated, fearful storytellers win. I can let myself retreat into isolation, and stop making sense of the world around me. I need to keep telling real world API stories on API Evangelist, and Kin Lane. I also need to push the alternative narrative on my platform to help point out the bullshit that is going on, and show that fictional stories can help us make sense of scary things that are occurring. If nothing else, my fictional stories help me blow off steam, and allow me to do more of the mundane API and technology blah blah blah that pays my bills. I try to keep my technology storytelling rooted in reality, and provide meaningful value to my readers, but sometimes the repetition, and technical details get to me, and writing fictional pieces helps me balance it all out. I’m finding balance in my life through storytelling, and with some distance from my rural upbringing, and spending more time talking to people around the world, I’m finding strength in my voice, and stability in my world view. Alternative storytelling is a significant part of this, and I don’t want to give it up, because people I know prefer to live their lives telling lies.