Jason Silva explains the transformative power that media has over the mind, and what makes storytelling effective.
“We are narrative beings. Our humanness is built on the ability to understand ourselves in the context of a story, so we’re basically hardwired for stories,” Silva says. “In the age of YouTube, though, we have many more signals competing for our attention. We have the tyranny of the small screen, attention spans are shrunken. You have to change how you tell a story, because at the end of the day, stories only work if you are immersed in them.“
The frequent keynote speaker recently lead a presentation during the Tribeca Film Festival’s Innovation Week to explain why movies are especially well equipped to tell stories in a way that envelopes viewers.
“A story is immersive when it effectively induces a deictic shift, which is the moment when you assume a viewpoint of one of the characters of the story, and you forget yourself,” Silva says. “They’ve done MRI scans on the brains of people watching movies and they say cinema is the closest we get to dreaming with our eyes open. The lateral prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for self-awareness, it goes dim. You forget your body, the theater, your chair. The mind is free from the confines of the body, and that is when you enter the liminal trance state.”