14 July, 2012

A matter of intent



Ken Burns: On Story from Redglass Pictures on Vimeo.

"Ken Burns: on Story" is a very compelling short film about storytelling. He argues all of storytelling is manipulation. It is just a matter of deciding whether what you are doing when you tell a story is an acceptable form of manipulation or not.

It is difficult to get my mind around this idea. If you look at the definition of the word,

"Shrewd or devious management, especially for one's own advantage"

or of psychological manipulation,

"a type of social influence that aims to change the perception or behavior of others through underhanded, deceptive, or even abusive tactics",

then obviously storytelling being a form of manipulation can't be good, right?

What if we separate the intent (a type of social influence that aims to change the perception or behavior of others) from the means (through underhanded, deceptive, or even abusive tactics). What if the means we use arise out of a genuine honest wish to share or explore our ideas with others? Is that just splitting hairs? Is it just another form of manipulation?

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