A Whole Different Story

Sometimes we can believe a story about an individual, a set of events or a given circumstance. That story is held to be accurate and near complete, it becomes a part of a mythos, a hagiography or even a reverse hagiography, where people are demonised. These stories particularly if they are propagated by THEY are rarely checked for factuality, the provenance of witness is often assumed reliable. People like to gossip and embellish; this is a known fact. Yet when we hear a story, particularly a juicy one we tend to forget the fact of exaggeration. For whatever reason our discrimination our discernment ebbs and we fail to take what we hear “with a pinch of salt”. This is particularly so if we have strong confirmation bias. If we think X is a bit of a wanker, anything which confirms our bias is lapped up without filtering.

We can become fascinated by the face value and fail to consider a back story or an entirely different narrative. There can be “sacred cows” who must not be criticised or investigated. A recent example in the UK was Jimmy Savile who was a serial child abuser. Because of the perceived upside of his involvement in charities his downside was ignored or swept under the carpet. There was a whole different story at work behind the scenes.

I’ll wager that in very many cases the “stories” we hold about people are unbalanced, lop-sided and far from complete. We use these inaccurate pictures to modulate our interaction with said individual.

Way back when I was involved with a start-up most people, to my perception only, viewed me as some kind of entrepreneur, a go-getter. Very few of them would have imagined me banging on my shaman’s drum and going for a vision quest in the woods. There is nothing like raising a big whack of venture capital funding to get the tongues wagging and the perceptions starting to skew.

People make shit up and then tell others…

If one does something that does not compute, people invent all sorts of reasons and motives, usually with a hint of salaciousness.

I watched some video material of my old colleagues the other day. It was weird doing this and to see my name appear fleetingly on the screen in a narrative being given was a tad spooky. The narrative presented was a “for public consumption” narrative. It seems to me there are many of these.

I haven’t spoken face to face with anyone there in ~13 years. So as an example, whatever they may say about me is out of date. I could not ask them for a meaningful reference. They have no idea what has transpired for me, and even if they read the entire contents of this blog, it is extremely unlikely that they could relate in any experiential sense to what I have spoken about.

One could present many narratives. The easiest to imagine is burn-out followed by subsequent lunacy / eccentricity.

I guess that the narratives we hold are subject to collapsing, all it might take is one bit of information. The former Welsh rugby captain was married to a woman and then came out as gay. For public consumption he was a straight man, for many years. The narratives we hold so concrete are impermanent, yet we act as if they are real. They form a perceptual and cognitive lens through which we assemble our interpretation of the world around us. We can be adamant that our interpretation is correct, even the only correct one.

It can be difficult to detach from our current operative narrative. I say this because there are often many and differing operative narratives concerning things. The trick is to know which operative narrative one is using in any given situation, to be at least partially aware of the preconceived ideas and prejudices at play or in play.

Chögyam Trungpa {Rinpoche} was student at St Anthony’s College, Oxford but he is not mentioned as an alumnus on their Wiki page. The narrative of a monk running off with a young girl to get married, being a bit of a piss artist and slightly whacky is not perhaps one with which they wish to be associated. But I suspect he has had a more radical effect on the lives of many than the other alumni. He is just not squeaky clean and status quo. People can be snobbish.

I’ll make a hypothesis.

There is a tendency to conclude about something {often based in hearsay} which does not allow for there being a whole other story. This tendency in enhanced by confirmation bias and convenience. Often, we fail to acknowledge this tendency in ourselves.

What do you think, is this valid?