Journalism and Psychology are the art and science of people, respectively. I always said the two disciplines go hand-in-hand and if I had my way, journalists would have to study psychology and psychologists would have to study journalism. Both need the other to unlock certain puzzles of the human mind.
I studied both and had even proposed a course in journalism psychology, but my ideas appear to be outré for the current climate. Some other time when academia catches up to the necessary daring.
As a journalist, I had to conduct many interviews and I noticed how many people had a tightly woven narrative all ready for me: it was a well-rehearsed script, but it was not just because they wanted to present themselves in the best light: they decided they had a certain way of seeing the world and they wanted to present the facts to prove their theory was right.
They mistook their perception for truth and reality and they were out to prove their perceptions were absolutely, universally and completely right without exception.
People use narratives as a weapon and fortress: challenge the narrative and many people become enraged: how dare you say they aren’t life’s perpetual victim? Well, you must live a charmed life to say life is worth living. What do you mean that they hurt your feelings by implying you are unrealistic? Why are you challenging their story that their life has been nothing but tragic because you didn’t ask them out on a date when they went out of their way to give you the cold shoulder?
Even if you mention someone in a similar situation and question their decision, people will immediately jump in to the other person’s defence because to question one person means catastrophe to their narrative fortress.
Narrative manipulation happens all the time. It is misused to bolster a dodgy and self-serving self-perception. The narrator is the hero or victim and people who support them are angels and people who put their foot down and don’t applaud them at every waking second are insane and stupid Devils. The End, says Patriarchal Storyselling spokeswoman Mary Sue.
In Patriarchal Storytelling, but even more so in storyselling, the roles are confined in such a manner; so much so that those kinds of narrators honestly believe they have an airtight lock on controlling the message and the story.
Retractions and challenges will have no effect. Whoever puts the story out first with their narrative wins the hearts and minds of others forever as history aids and abets their manipulative and cunning lies.
To challenge the narrative of the self-proclaimed hero or victims casts you as the insensitive villain by default. It is a game by stratagem and questioning the propagandistic narrative turns the rightful skeptic into an enemy of the narrator who then casts the person as another unenlightened devil in his rogues’ gallery.
The storysellers of such yarns have cornered everyone into submission with their narratives, and think if everyone believes their narrative, they will not only be right, but they will forever be seen as the perfect hero who lives happily ever after as the world agrees with them and their enemies are eternally cast as undesirables to be forever punished.
Not with Matriarchal Storytelling. Not at all.
Narratives do not drive Matriarchal stories. They can function beautifully with an epistolary approach of bits and pieces, such as letters, memos, articles, and forum chat transcripts. That is not to say you cannot have definitive heroes and villains, but even in these cases, we can better understand them and see them unprocessed.
But it goes deeper than that. We can examine narratives from various perspectives and challenge the narrator, and see more than they do. We test their stories as scientists as we draw a picture of their surroundings as artists. We break down their assertions as we examine them and then make a mosaic.
Few people look at a situation from multiple angles and perspectives with the Patriarchal approach, but the Matriarchal style thrives on it. The first narrative is the one we begin to *unravel* as we examine the threads and compare them to other threads. This is not to say the hero or heroine end up being villains, but we are allowed to embrace them even if not everyone around them in the story or series likes them, and there are times we can root for both sides even if they never get to see eye to eye. Too often, a storyteller tries to cast victims as heroes or, more likely, heroines, and the Matriarchal style allows us to question a narrator who lacks self-awareness in a different way.
There is no monopoly on perspectives here. We explore and question competing perceptions to first find reality, and then the truth as we empathize with characters in a different way as we ride their wavelengths.
If the narrator claims to be a victim, the Matriarchal style will look at the situation from multiple perspectives: is fate out to get them or do they let opportunities slip by to prove a point, making them their own worst enemies?
If there is an accusation that the happy person who loves life is more charmed than the character who wallows, we can compare their lives side by side, and see the one with the more tragic life is the one who relishes life while the one with the blessings has a middling existence thanks to their own self-sabotaging narrative.
We expand what we can examine and how we wish to examine the character or situation. It is not about narratives or voice. It is about finding the truth from various angles.
Journalists are trained to do this sort of gathering. Even psychologists are supposed to do more than merely talk to their patient: they employ various tests, from ink blot interpretation to standardized multiple choice tests to even medical testing from blood tests to brain scans.
We are not confined by the say-so of a single narrator to tell us how we are to interpret him, his life choices, or his environment.
We can read his condescending memos to his employees. We can read his misleading reports to clients. We can peek in on his texts to his mistress as we listen in to the fights he has with his wife.
And then we can square it to his police interview as he becomes the prime suspect in his wife’s disappearance.
Just as we can read how his wife set him up to take the fall just as the man she ran away with throws her off the cruise ship…and she secretly survives, ready for revenge.
We can be noirish or surreal. We can explore paradise or the places below hell, finding trouble even in paradise — or hidden secret rebel paradises hidden in hell.
Because the Matriarchal is a mosaic. It is not about One, but the Infinite.
It is the sphere where there are keys, not locks, and we can freely explore those new places as we tear down the confines that the Patriarchal style made to seem were reality, absolute truth, and the final verdict.
And those who thought they had a lock on the narrative find themselves in the hot seat as we challenge their views to find new stories and refreshing new ways to tell and interpret them.