What is an Experience?

Orion

In a moment of semi-lucidity, I was pondering on what makes a story and why stories make information easier to digest for most people. Explanations tend to fly over most people’s heads, but they’re more willing to understand them if told in a relatable story. Let’s talk about what an experience is. After all, the tagline of this blog is “Exploring experience through digital adventure,” so why not do it literally?

I’m sure this is something someone else has written about in greater clarity somewhere. Perhaps one day, I’ll get to read that and become more able to articulate my thoughts on this subject. There have been many who have made stories out of making stories, and I’m sure it will keep going as long as people keep coming up with new ways to tell stories.

Bear with me as I put out this brain fart that seemed like a good idea when I put down the rough draft for it over a month ago. I thought I was onto something, but then struggled with finishing this post due to no longer having the same train of thought. However, there were enough dots to connect with the ideas I was able to squirt out of my cranium.

Disclaimer: I’m not well-read in philosophical texts, and it’s a problem I’m still trying to solve. The following is merely the pretentious musings of a man with too much time in his hands. I wrote this with Google open on another monitor to search for what I could add.

From Information to Story Through Experience

What I realized during a semi-lucid moment on the early morning of May 21 was how seemingly disconnected pieces of information come together to form knowledge, which can then become a story through experience. First, we must answer the question of what knowledge is.

Information is defined as a “resolution of uncertainty.” It answers the question of what something is. Data are pieces of information collected through observation, either qualitative or quantitative values and definitions. When data are compiled and defined, they become information

Knowledge is a body of information connected together through a common theme or object. The state of knowing something brings information closer to life. When that information has a good bit of empirical structure behind it, that’s when it truly becomes knowledge that can be tangible in the real world.

A story is when knowledge is given context through a person’s real life experience. It’s no longer innocuous pieces of information devoid of connection. It’s no longer knowledge that feels far away and unrelatable. It’s no longer merely known, but also sensed, experienced, and lived through as well.

Experience is the process by which knowledge is made relatable in real life and becomes a part of a person’s story. It’s the bridge that knowledge must cross in order to be a part of a person’s story. You can learn something from a textbook or the classroom, but it becomes virtually indelible once it’s experienced. That experience is then written into a person’s story.

What the Hell Am I on About?

I wrote this because I’ve been seeing the word “storytelling” thrown around more often. More and more people describe themselves as “storytellers,” giving whatever they do more existential weight. They’re no longer just their job descriptions, but “storytellers”—as if that term alone makes what they do less banal or mundane.

Most of those people, I suspect, likely don’t know what they’re talking about, especially those who work in marketing and advertising. I don’t know whether to applaud or vomit in my mouth at their gumption in calling themselves such for what they do, likely without realizing what it truly means or how deep the rabbit hole truly goes.

But many of the principles in those fields are indeed rooted in this realization, that stories are what make information and knowledge relatable to the common man. That’s how they sell things to us on a daily basis. But there’s this thing about stories being forced. When stories aren’t told well or constructed with good enough thought, they fall flat.

What’s Up with the Constellation on the Thumbnail?

Here’s a somewhat related tangent. As a child, I was fascinated with astronomy. I was one of those people who didn’t bat an eye when Pluto was stripped of its official status as a planet in the Solar System in 2006 because I knew how different it was from other planets from reading so many space books in my youth.

One of the things I remembered was the idea of the constellations. You can squeeze in how information being turned into knowledge as connecting dots, like how ancient peoples connected stars to form constellations, even if how they seem to us up in the sky doesn’t say much about how those stars actually exist in space. It was just a way that people were able to observe the night sky and group different stars together to better identify and classify them.

I roughly remember some of them, including the constellation Orion. It’s one of the easier constellations to find due to the three adjacent stars that form the belt. I knew of this, but it wasn’t until my early adulthood when I was able to spot it one night with my naked eye. Looking back, that’s when it clicked.

Perhaps I can tie a neat bow on top of this with how everything ties together and things make a lot more sense now. I don’t know if I can really say that, but it’s nice to think that it does. At the very least, I can spot Orion in the night sky consistently these days.

Conclusion

I had a draft of shoehorning this to pro wrestling, but I realized that it wasn’t working as seamlessly as I would’ve hoped, so I scrapped it. This is still an idea in utero, and I don’t know if it’ll ever grow and come out of the womb at all. Maybe I’ll forget about it for many years, then revisit it on a whim.

Just before posting this, I’ve since found infographics on this very thing, but with “wisdom” in place of “story” as the end point. So, I was right in thinking that I didn’t think of it first. However, most of those infographics were targeted to online marketing and business. I would like to explore the idea more in the realm of creativity.

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Have something to say? Do you agree or am I off-base? Did I miss a crucial detail or get something wrong? Please leave whatever reactions, questions, or suggestions you may have on the comment section below.

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