The Urban Campfire: Storytelling In The Digital Age
Since the beginning of time, storytelling has been an essential component to the brilliant experience of what it is to be human. Where our most distant ancestors penned hieroglyphs on the walls of caves, the Greeks etched intricate designs into stone, while aboriginal tribes passed down their tales from one person to another, the history of a people carried from one voice to the next.
In the digital age, the power of the Internet allows human beings a more powerful voice than at arguably any other time in human history: the capacity to share information worldwide and in only seconds means that our opinions, fantasies, whims, and histories may be conveyed almost instantaneously. The wide-reaching and immediate feedback of such a platform is miraculous yet daunting. With so many stories being told, how may we ensure that the uniqueness of our message is not lost? The same entity that broadcasts our voices to a global audience also necessitates that we become masters of a different art – storytelling in the digital age.
In “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook”, entrepreneur and digital marketing expert Gary Vaynerchuk speaks to the art of digital storytelling, and the necessity of creating an emotional connection within the digital sphere:
Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a small business, or a Fortune 500 company, great marketing is all about telling your story in such a way that it compels people to buy what you’re selling. Social networking sites light up people’s dopamine pathways and the pleasure centers of their brain. Your content must do the same […] and it will if provides the same value and emotional benefits people are seeking when they come to the platform in the first place […] Creating skillful native content has little to do with selling and a lot to do with skillful storytelling. In the right social-media-savvy hands, a brand […] becomes human.
Thus, whether our intent is to share our lives or sell our product, we must become bilingual, so to speak – retaining our inherent vulnerability – that which unites us in our shared humanity and is the mark of any great storyteller – while learning to speak the nuanced language of the digital world.
The telling of our stories is an essential part of what it means to be human – to tell our stories is to make sense, to make meaning, of what it is to be alive. Writer Phillip Pullman eloquently speaks to the necessity of stories when he writes,
After nourishment, shelter, and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.
Our grief, our joys, our most brilliant successes and our most heartbreaking failures – our triumphs and losses – all are chapters in the unique novel of both our individual and collective journeys. Though the platform has changed, the need has not – now, more than ever, we are indebted to those who come after us to share out stories in all of their complexity, in their sacred and unique gift to the world. What is your offering?
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