Drawing of Jonas thinking inside the whale

Social media – the world has changed

By Frits Ahlefeldt, FritsAhlefeldt.com

Some worried why Jonas in the whale’s belly hadn’t updated his Twitter and Facebook since Friday, but then:

Jonas in the whale's belly twitter on Monday

Jonas updates in the whale

Structures and isolation in myths and traditional storytelling

In many storytelling models  and also in many traditional stories and myths, the main character will leave the known world, to go to an isolated place… where he eventually will come back from as a “new person” with a new understanding, to re-join and help the community with his new abilities.

This is a story as old as… well Jonas in the whale, and actually this story about the reluctant hero who disappeared from the world, to later re-appear with new abilities is one of the main pillars of storytelling and mythology from all over the world, as Joseph Campbell (grand old man of comparative mythology) build his ” the hero with a thousand faces” storytelling theory around.

Hear Joseph Campbell explain Jonas in the whale here from a mythological storytelling perspective:

The story about Jonas have even given name to a Jonah complex ( Abraham Maslow / Frank Manual ) about the reluctant person trying to avoid his destiny

Figuring out what is real

Drawing of Jonas thinking inside the whale

Wondering inside the whale

In most of the versions of Jonas / Jonah etc. in the whale that have been told from generation to generation in, at least the last more than 2500 years, Jonas is cast out from a ship in a storm and swallowed by a huge fish / whale. In there, isolated, alone in the womb  Jonas goes through a transformation that changed him into the legendary Jonas, that dared and understood things in a new light

Plato came up with one of the most well-known stories about being entrenched and trying to figure out what reality is, coming out of the cave and seeing the light – the Plato / Socrates story about the cave and the shadows on the wall To later go back and tell the community about it.

Both the Jonas and the Plato cave story, are stories about being isolated from the community, gaining insight and returning to share the new understandings.

The same ritual of leaving and returning is known from cultures from all times and parts of the world. And in many places it is actually mandatory for young members of the community to leave as part of the initiation rite, and spend time, free-floating and alone, liberated and away from reality, profane time and community space, to return as an adult member of the tribe / community.

Modern time and telling the story

Journalist standing in a little boat, asking questions to Jonas inside the whale

Interview with Jonas in the whale

Until a few years ago professional storytellers, called journalist, have been risking life and heath to find those stories, as they happened, reporting live… out there all the way from the whale.

And as I sit here I can’t help wonder about what that change meant, suddenly  the community would no longer have to wait for Jonas to gain insight or get out of the whale, instead it would send a reporter right in there, to interview him,  follow the process and possible progress of the lost (now not so lost, Jonas) To the folks back home, looking at the media output. What I wonder most about is how it might would have changed the story… now that there no longer is this break, this time-out where the main character have to see all his knowledge and understanding cast into chaos and doubt… alone.

The third change, Social Media, Twitter and Facebook

Jonas in the whale's belly twitter on Monday

#JonasInTheWhale Twitter

In the last years all this have changed again, the amount of journalists and reporters are dwindling and the numbers of those sleepless, hard-working, fearless journalists out in the field is dropping as the internet connect and widens up a whole new kind of real life 14o character updates and dialogues, from the center of action, from inside the whale, not edited or changed in any way, but twittered, selfie-captured and authenticated by the main characters themselves… as they get lost, get swallowed, sits lost in the whale, looking for a place to plugin their phone, so they can keep updating the world and answer questions, not only about what is happening but at least as important – also post new emoticons about the change and flow of their emotions, while all this happen.

What I wonder about is, how all this might influence the stories, the time-out or lack of it… what it means to our understandings that we are never really truly lost, separated or alone anymore, like Jonas in the whale… or are we?

Drawings and text By Frits Ahlefeldt, FritsAhlefeldt.com

About Frits Ahlefeldt

Painting watercolors, researching, writing & sketching up thoughts, understandings and ideas for a sustainable future, connecting thrive, trails, places and technology


illustrations, Place making, Technology, thrive


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