Why I Consume Fiction

My friend Lawrence doesn’t consume fiction. He doesn’t read fiction books and he definitely doesn’t watch any TV. To Lawrence, the crises of the world are so big, and time so short, that he needs to spend as much time as possible becoming an intelligent and effective tool for change. He does this through reading, writing, dialogue and collaboration.

Lawrence is a beast. He’s the most productive person I know. He doesn’t waste a minute of his time. He’s a super impressive person and I’d expect no less from him. When he says he doesn’t value fiction, I know he’s not arguing that we should all give up the art of fiction and storytelling (although he might argue that we should give up TV), but rather that he personally finds no value in consuming it. My girlfriend feels the same way.

I love fiction. I am an emotional and intuitive type more than knowledge-based, sensing type (I’m an INTP). I wonder if I’m even more of an artist than a designer, despite my job title (I haven’t thought about that before). Here are some reasons why I continue to consume and create fiction, even in a world that needs a massive reality check and that needs to train intelligent knowledge+justice workers and design thinkers like Lawrence, ASAP.

A) Whats the point of sentience without it. Art is our gift. Making up stuff that doesn’t matter is sometimes, to me, is the only thing that separates us from being a banana. Yes, we have crises to solve, but if our lives aren’t full of art and emotion, what’s the point?

B) Storytelling is a super powerful tool for change. Fables, myths and metaphors carry more meaning and power than straight knowledge. I want to build a just world by telling stories about it that help people relate to and share my vision.

C) Information overload is killing me. Sometimes my brain just doesn’t have the capacity for another podcast or article. Passive story listening or reading let’s my brain recharge from a decision-heavy day while still expanding my understanding of the world.

All that being said, some fiction is simply more valuable than other. If a story doesn’t demonstrate how a character evolves through the story in some way, or if doesn’t reflect on society or our own individual hopes, fears and tendencies, then it’s less interesting to me. If the story doesn’t question or explore some aspect of humanity that makes us rethink our own relationships, then I get bored. Written fiction often accomplishes these things way better than TV.