taking our imagination back (or "why am i so into imagination right now?")

i’m developing a theory and the last few days i’ve been pressure testing it. i’ve written about pieces of it here and here, but today i’m thinking through the next iteration.

i am coming to believe that, collectively, we have outsourced our imaginations. this is one of the more fundamental problems american society faces. the solution: we need to take it back.

a few ways i think the outsourcing has happened:

we over-rely on elected officials to solve problems

i think this is both a scale problem and a lifestyle problem. our political geographies too big and also not connected enough. there’s a lot to unpack there, but i’ll leave it be for now. our lifestyles also aren’t set up around civil participation. based on the way i see most people structure their lives (partly out of choice, partly out of necessity), we don’t have or make time to participate in democratic decision making processes. that is, other than via capitalism… which we’ve seen doesn’t work.

we don’t daydream

we don’t daydream anymore. our smart devices (watches, phones, computers, games, alexas & siris* keep our minds constantly occupied (…enslaved might one say?). we read and tweet and instagram and snap and share our time away. when we pull out our phones at every idle second, we have no space to dream or imagine what else there could be. our use (addiction?) to our devices has launched us collectively into a dearth of imagination. *** the result of these two and other forces is almost full corporate control of imagination. binge watching netflix, amazon prime, hulu, hbo, etc. is the order of the day. it’s normal to spend a whole weekend watching some new series.

now, to be clear, there is some awesome stuff being made these days. there’s also some terrible stuff. and there are obviously exceptions, especially thinking about local and independent productions, but let’s be honest. how often do people who aren’t directly involved in those worlds consume that content?

i digress… the point isn’t about the quality of corporate media. the point is that we don’t, individually, communally, or societally imagine. i think most people believe that it’s not important that we do so, nor would it matter if we did.

however, i think the individual and collectively capacity is critical. it’s what allows us to engage politically and actually move towards the world we want. in fact, i would argue that it’s impossible to push for the world you want to see if you haven’t envisioned what it looks like.

i think this is why i’m so into imagination right now.

ok. i’m over time, but here are some quotes:

“There are more than a few things hindering us. I won’t list them all, but one is imperative. We haven’t envisioned winning.” — Ferari Shepard


“Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness—and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe.”” — Arundhati Roy at the 2003 World Social Forum


“our feet won’t take us to a place we haven’t yet been in our minds.” (paraphrase) — somewhere in the center for story-based strategy narrative curriculum

actually, here are a bunch of quotes about imagination (and narrative strategy) from my reading of the book re-imagining change.

✱ sidenote: why are the anthropomorphized devices always women? i set my siri to an australian male voice and people comment on it almost without fail. #patriarchy

writing spell-check, link-finding, & formatting
16:27 6:05