Our brains are great at taking shortcuts. We classify, organize, repeat, and gloss over things that we are familiar with, because if we didn’t, well, there would simply be no way we could function in a world. We’d go insane from either over-stimulation or analysis paralysis if we had to think our way through every situation.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently in terms of narrative, frequency, and truth. The more often we do something, or engage with something, the more likely we are to create mental shortcuts for it. And, in a curse of fate, the more we encounter something in ourselves, the more likely we are to believe that particular thing to be true on a broader scale, outside of its original context. The more we hear something, the more we believe it.
We’re great, too, at drawing truth from the stories we encounter. Now, we may not take them as literal truth, but we tend to draw broader truths from these narratives. And they start to resonate. Jesus explained Truth through story all the time. And these stories don’t have to be fiction. There’s a reason “infotainment” is so popular—it frames the news in the context of personalized stories and narratives.
Taken together, these things are problematic—particularly if we aren’t discerning about the type of stories we’re engaging with. If I see something portrayed as “good” or “evil” often enough in stories; I’ll start to believe it’s true, even outside of those contexts.
Narrative shapes how we interpret the world, and there’s nothing we can really do about that. It’s going to happen. So my point is I guess, try to make sure your narrative diet isn’t all coming from one place, or you’re asking for your thinking to be rewired in a pretty unilateral way.