Why buy a story?

Have you ever bought a novel? Paid money to see a movie? Bought a DVD? Rented a netflix, redbox or, gasp, a Blockbuster video cassette? Have you ever watched TV?

Of course you have. We all have. But why?

Because we love to be entertained. Our brains are so big, so complex that they crave constant interaction. But our lives are so small, so trivial and filled with such mundane jobs and workaday tasks that we are compelled to entertain them. We need entertainment to, well, complete our lives.

Would we ever just go back to telling stories around a tribal campfire? Oh, we might and would, if that’s all we could get. And what stories we could tell then too. Stories of financial conquest and ruin, trips to foreign lands, amazing things we’d eaten, drunk, and seen. But we don’t need to do that do we?

No. We just need to whip our our credit card and buy another hour or ten’s worth of entertainment. There. Done. Now we can settle back and watch or read and live another’s life — as if it were our own; fiction or not; reality, fantasy or fantastical science. As long as we can get away from our own mundane lives.

How often to you seek entertainment escape? Every week? Everyday? More often? Is that not odd? Humanity sponsors a trillion dollar enterprise dedicated to allow people to abandon their lives, for a time, in order to remain sane in this banal world we’ve created. What’s even more odd — we’re just getting started. Our entertainment menu is set to grow exponentially.

When that day comes, whose stories will be the ones told, read, projected, injected? Yours? One can only hope.

14 thoughts on “Why buy a story?

  1. I buy books, yes, and enjoy them, but I try to chose ones I learn something from. I’ve read some great stuff recently, both bought and paid for, but usually in the background I’m thinking about things like how is this writer a better writer than I am, how can it help me improve, how can it inspire me? For me, if you stop learning, you stop living.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The writer as a reader. The process changes does it not? I too find myself analyzing writing with regards to its nuances and how I might use them (or avoid them) in my own writing. Thanks for the comment.


  2. You got me thinking, how do I spend my entertainment dollar? And why?

    Luckily, Quicken has the answer, and we’re just into the new year so I can break it down for the entirety of 2017.

    According to my well-documented financial records, 23% of my spending went to my home and home-related expenses. By far, the largest category. The next largest? Auto and transport (17%). Now, SOME of that would be considered an entertainment expense, as our short trips to do fun things require fuel money. But, that might be negligible.

    So, there’s 40%, on home and auto.

    Eating and grocery come in at just under 15%. Sometimes eating can entertain, but mostly it’s just to put food in the body and toilet paper on the shelf. Utilities come in next at almost 13%, but part of utilities would be television (2% overall) and internet (1%), and both could be counted as entertainment.

    Now, the big one. A category for entertainment only.

    According to my financial software, I spent 5.82% last year on pure entertainment. 42% of that 6% was on pure cash spending; money pulled out of the bank and blown as I fritter around the town (or Reno or something). The next 19% of that 42% was on “alcohol and bars,” of course (but, then, so was a large amount of that cash, eh?). Then comes almost 18% on “restaurants.”

    Books, movies, and music combine for less than 3% of my entertainment dollar, plus the satellite expense mentioned above.

    Clearly, I need to watch more TV and drink less $5 beers with pals. 😉

    Thank you for the engaging analysis of our culture, AM, and for getting me to dive a little, on a Tuesday morning, into my own regimen of fun. 😎

    Of all the entertainment dollars I spend, the 1% I spend on internet yields, undoubtedly, the best return. Thanks for being a part of that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. > internet yields the best return…
      That’s exactly what the entertainment world is grappling with. And the demise of Net Neutrality will allow powerful entities to influence those channels.
      Your analysis is revealing. I didn’t see healthcare in there. We’re more like 25% home, 25% healthcare, 25% debit service, 25% food/utilities/ent. An ugly mix, if I do say so myself.
      Thanks for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, thankfully we have very few medical bills (and no debt). I suppose if I added the pre-tax money taken out of the wife’s check for health coverage that number would add up, but Quicken only tallies what is spent from take-home pay. Cheers. AM. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I thought I was the bleak one…your exposition is dead on and the loss of human interaction is one of the greatest pivot points in our evolution. Virtual reality is killing humans, but I find some consultation in the fact that although humans are doomed, the planet will be just fine, at least until the sun explodes. Are you planning on being here for that event? I am. Thanks and like the Convert you ought to write a book. Maybe you already have. Have you? Duke

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “ought to write a book” written a couple thus far. Fiction. Lame writing, but getting incrementally better. I figure by the time the third or forth is done I’ll be savvy enough to go back and fix the first two. (Nothing published, of course, but not for lack of trying.)


      1. The thing about you…is that you have something to say. For me that is the key point. Many write, but in the end, they have not said much worth knowing. Where can I read some of your fiction stuff? Have you posted it on your blog site? Thanks. Duke

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I can see that theme here.
      The industry, though, does not think that art can exist without cost and return.
      I might postulate that the earliest entertainment artisans, bards and storytellers, did not practice their art without recompense from the wealthy lords and kings of their time.
      This begs the question of a recent discussion I had with another writer: do you write for yourself, or others?
      I contend than no writer, who strives to perfect their craft, would write solely for themselves. The subject matter may tend to be of personal choice. But the resulting artifact, the manuscript or poem, will have been honed and formatted intentionally for consumption by others.
      So, art for art’s sake? Perhaps, at times, this is and has been true (the painters and sculptors and potters, etc.) But rarely, I would say are the entertainment arts created without an audience in mind.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting thoughts. Fiction is one of the things that seperates humans from the rest of the animals, as far as I know. For me the consume of fiction has always bren connected to the desire of creating. Reading, watching or listening to worlds created by great minds is highly inspiring. The only fiction I buy these days are books, though. And a comic every once in a while.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I prefer free entertainment, from something on Youtube, to a book from the library… but I very much notice how, after a busy work day, I just want to be lazy and switch something on, something that doesn’t require me to think, too much… although I like to think, so it’s a challenge also!

    Liked by 1 person

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