as humans whose evolutionary success has been founded upon our intelligence and know-how which most other animals don’t have, we believe this rational brain of ours is what drives us in our daily lives. it’s our emotional brain, however, which makes most of our decisions. this is why stories are so important to our means of communication with others. it’s narrative that guides us. lately, many in business have eschewed stories and replaced them with an increasing demand for analytics and fact-based decision making. and while i am a disciple of data-driven choices, i also realize that narrative is still critical and that one can go too far when it comes to making choices based solely on what the numbers say.

consider lightbox pop-ups on websites asking you to sign up for this, or register for that, even before you’ve had your first encounter with the site itself. how many frustrated sighs have left your mouth when you accidentally tapped an advertisement from a lightbox when you were on a mobile device? ever signed up for a newsletter you never even wanted simply because you weren’t sure how to make that lightbox go away? to most people, sites which use lightboxes are the scourge of the internet and should be banned. but content providers still employ them because they work. newsletters DO get more signups when using a lightbox. that advertisement DOES get clicked on far more frequently.

or consider buzzfeed. the site nearly everyone i know is ashamed to like. the guilty pleasure of millions. they feel abject shame and self-loathing for liking buzzfeed’s lists or quizzes, and even put that disclaimer out there before they share it on social media. but they still get hundreds of thousands of page views for a single listicle created out of often-times unattributed content others from the internet have developed.

if you lose readers before they click a link on your site because you drove them away with an annoying but effective pop-up, what kind of narrative does that spell? and when your fans are saying “sorry” before sharing your product with another person, is that really the kind of story you want to tell?