“A great storyteller helps people figure out not only what matters in the world, but also why it matters.”

From an essay, “Wisdom in the Age of Information,” by Maria Popova on the website brainpickings.org:

We live in a world awash with information, but we seem to face a growing scarcity of wisdom. And what’s worse, we confuse the two. We believe that having access to more information produces more knowledge, which results in more wisdom. But, if anything, the opposite is true. . . .

At its base is a piece of information, which simply tells us some basic fact about the world. Above that is knowledge—the understanding of how different bits of information fit together to reveal some truth about the world. Knowledge hinges on an act of correlation and interpretation. At the top is wisdom, which has a moral component. . . .

A great storyteller—whether a journalist or editor or filmmaker or curator—helps people figure out not only what matters in the world, but also why it matters. A great storyteller dances up the ladder of understanding, from information to knowledge to wisdom. Through symbol, metaphor, and association, the storyteller helps us interpret information, integrate it with our existing knowledge, and transmute that into wisdom.

A great story, then, is not about providing information, though it can certainly inform—a great story invites an expansion of understanding, a self-transcendence. More than that, it plants the seed for it and makes it impossible to do anything but grow a new understanding—of the world, of our place in it

At a time when information is increasingly cheap and wisdom increasingly expensive, this gap is where the modern storyteller’s value lives.

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