What in the world could myths and stories have to do with good blogging?
First, it’s important to understand what a myth is. A myth is not simply a story about giants, gods, or magic. Many myths do include these things, but they are not the core point of a myth. The purpose of a myth is to convey a common idea, a sense of a shared lesson, through a story everyone involved can remember.
Take the story of Prometheus. Prometheus steals fire from the gods because he sees man shivering and cold in the dark of the world. From that day forward, because of one person’s courage, man had heat and light. For his deed, Prometheus was punished eternally until set free by a passing hero.
In this story are many lessons for people to consider – the powerful don’t like being thwarted, the brave can make a difference, fire is a metaphor for creativity and ingenuity, and others besides. If you mention the story of Prometheus to anyone familiar with Greek myth, they will understand these themes.
Let’s look at a more recent myth, because they don’t all have to be old. Recently on Intelligence Squared, Christopher Hitchens and Stephen Fry debated on a very contentious issue about the role religion plays in developing countries and the world. When one of the other side said ‘don’t blame religion for not being ahead of its time,’ Stephen famously said, “Then what good are you!”
Anyone who has seen the debate knows about that moment, and can see that it turned the substance of the discussion. Whether you agree or disagree with Fry’s assertion that religion is not a positive force in the world, that moment was positively mythical. People can use ‘What good are you,’ as a shorthand for that moment, with anyone who knows the story, the myth, of that debate.
So, myths need not be untrue, since this is a story that clearly happened. Nor need they be entirely truthful, as in the case of the Prometheus myth. The point is that they convey a central message, a lesson that can be learned, and a common theme that can be understood between people who know the story.
So, what in the world does this have to do with blogging, you ask again.
Above all, it is important to know the myths and stories that your readers will be familiar with. Regardless of what you may have heard about how unread and uneducated people today are, there are many myths that people are familiar with.
People reading a political blog are familiar with the myth that President Obama evoked with his calls for Hope and Change, and the battle cry of Yes We Can. Simply mention these terms, and you create an understanding in the people of that historic moment when Obama was elected, and the tumultuous years since that time. Just mentioning the myth opens up all manner of thought processes in peoples’ minds, and they’re ready to engage and discuss with you.
Remember, discussion is one of the key purposes of a blog. Blogs that simply sit back, don’t allow comments, and make pronouncements from on high aren’t the ones that really get vibrant. The best ones have an open and active discussion policy, where the author responds to critiques and compliments directly, and where good strong arguments are had under the heading of great posts.
Referencing the myths that people understand, both new and old, can evoke this discussion. So read up, be familiar with their myths. Call out to the stories they know and understand, and you will bring their active minds to the table to have a discussion.
These myths can do more than just give you a reference point for the discussion, they can actually give you something to talk about. Instead of simply mentioning your own opinion about things, you can relate a familiar story, and then illustrate how the current situation fits in with the myths you’re talking about. You can discuss parallels of theme, or explain how some figures today seem very ‘Promethean’ when considering what they’ve done and how they’ve been rewarded, for example.
To put it more simply, the best bloggers have plenty to talk about because they know things. They have stories to tell, frequently stories that people are already familiar with. Take advantage of this and learn a bit about the myths that bind our society together, and you will have plenty to discuss with your readers.
Photo by Mykl Roventine
About the Author
Enzo F. Cesario is an expert on blogs and social media for business and co-founder of Brandsplat. Brandsplat creates blogs, articles and social media in the “voice” of our client’s brand. For the free Brandsplat Report go to Brandsplat.com or visit our blog at http://www.ibrandcasting.com