We Are Living the Story Wars

Individuation is the psychological process of growing up and transforming stories of survival into tales of heroism. In effect, we “leave home” symbolically and save ourselves.

This same process occurs in a society as it matures.

Jonah Sachs, an adman and author of Winning the Story Wars: Why Those Who Tell—and Live—the Best Stories Will Rule the Future, shows this process in action. He outlines the shifting roles of consumer and advertiser, and the subtle redirection of the story from pathology to mythology.

In the early days, notes Sachs, the advertiser was the hero who saved the consumer with this product or that service, and promised her the happy ending she longed for. It was the tale of Cinderella all over again, where someone or something outside oneself promised to rescue you.

But in today’s “digitorial era,” as Sachs names it, the consumer is perfectly capable of saving herself. As a result, the advertiser’s role has shifted to helpmate and mentor whose products and services enable the consumer/hero to “Just do it!” to quote Nike.

In effect, a social organic individuation process appears to be occurring, triggered by changing demographics, more sophisticated technology and higher levels of personal self-actualization and activism.

That doesn’t mean the old story has disappeared. Indeed, when both narratives exist simultaneously, the “story wars” result.



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