Social Media and the Art of Storytelling

6 Apr

A few days ago, Chris Sullivan of MyNorthwest.com wrote an article called “The art of storytelling in a world of technology”.  He asked if you can tell a story over Twitter and wondered if the limitations of the medium limited the message.  He quoted professional storyteller Anne Rutherford as saying “Whatever their age, whatever their circumstance, if it’s a good story and it’s well told we completely have the ability to respond to that. However, what I think we’re losing is the opportunity to be in those situations.”  Ms. Rutherford believes the communications over digital technology, particularly via social media, are causing us to cut back on our in person interactions, and thus on our chances to tell and listen to stories.

In response to Mr. Sullivan’s article, Amanda Cosco of the Social Times said:

“It is my argument that social media makes story-telling even more possible today than in earlier years. While I’d agree with Sullivan that we’re not sharing stories in the same manner as we used to, I’d suggest that Story itself is an evolving beast, something that grows and mutates with time. Throughout history, storytelling forms have changed with technology— from oral traditions, to the printed word, to most recently digital media—but the elements of narrative can be detected throughout, as Story manages to creep its way into every linguistic or visual expression.”

And, I agree.  We use social media to connect and to share about our lives.  Really, our posts, tweets, and status updates come together to tell our stories.  A new “friend” is a new character entering the story.  Every check-in on FourSquare brings a new scene.  So, while the medium may be changing, the stories are still being told, now more than ever.  After all, we’re all writing our autobiographies, whether we know it or not.

Admittedly, social media tends to focus more on non-fiction than fiction.  (Interesting, because if you asked teens or twenty-somethings what they prefer, I bet the vast majority of them would say fiction.)  But, there are whole realms of online social interactions that are devoted to fiction.  Although they’re not as big of names as Facebook, they’re still important.  LiveJournal has many story writing communities.  And, there’s always fanfic.  (Yes, I realize that fanfiction.net is probably the lamest fanfic link, but I’m not sure who all is in the audience here and how many of them would think I were crazy if I posted some other ones…)  See the story of Cassandra Clare (fanfic author that got a book deal and made good) for an example of social media and online communities leading to authorship.

In response to Mr. Sullivan’s dare (“I challenge you to tell a great story on Twitter”), I submit that Charles Dickens released his stories in serial format.  I’m sure that they were much longer than 144 characters, but his medium was novel at the time, too.

So, keep updating, keep posting, and keep tweeting —  after all your writing you’re own story.  (And if you don’t write it, it probably won’t get told.)

Update: I’ve posted a follow-up piece, Social Media and the Art of Storytelling, Reader Responses.  I was so impressed with the thoughtful and articulate comments that I couldn’t just let them sit without a reply.  Read some selected comments and more on the topic here.


MaggieCakes is a blog about culture, social media, and what’s new in the world of Internet culture.  Every day (okay, I try for every day) I comb blogs and news outlets for the news about internet culture and social media to bring them to you (with my commentary, of course) here on MaggieCakes.  MaggieCakes is hosted by WordPress and often draws upon Slate, Jezebel, The Hair Pin, and SocialTimes for links and inspiration.  My post Social Media and the Art of Storytelling was featured on freshly pressed, bringing a while new readership to my blog.  Find anything interesting in the worlds of culture or social media that you’d like to see a post on?  Leave a comment or send me an e-mail at 2maggieotoole@gmail.com.

119 Responses to “Social Media and the Art of Storytelling”

  1. The Simple Life of a Country Man's Wife April 19, 2011 at 9:34 am #

    Interesting idea! I will be thinking up something for the Twitter challenge 🙂

  2. Mikalee Byerman April 19, 2011 at 9:45 am #

    I LOVE this … and it’s so true that we’re writing our own autobiography through every entry on a social media site. In fact, I’m compiling my Facebook status updates for my kids when they get older — I think they would be fascinated to read what I was feeling, thinking and talking about as they grew up … because of course, there’s much I don’t share with them.

    Great post. Thank you! 🙂

    • Maggie April 19, 2011 at 7:56 pm #

      Thanks! Actually, did you know that there’s a service that’s compiling your social media history into books? (Well, if you pay them they are.) I wrote a post on it a few weeks back — Facebook becomes a Yearbook. (Of course, I don’t know if they’d be as selective about what they include as you’re being…

    • georgettesullins April 22, 2011 at 6:56 pm #

      Very nice idea Mikalee. I’m compiling my blog posts for a self published book for my family. A high school friend comments that she likes the “stories” I post. She doesn’t say articles, posts, updates, soundbites, etc.

  3. Jennifer Avventura April 19, 2011 at 9:48 am #

    Really great post. I think it’s time society taps out of the virtual would and reconnects with the real world. Congrats on Freshly Pressed.

  4. William Jonathan Morgan April 19, 2011 at 9:51 am #

    great perspective.

  5. John Mcgee April 19, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    I think there is some weight behind the idea that increasing digital interaction reduces our physical presence / analog interactions. However, it also opens up new worlds and possibilities, too. For instance, I regularly listen to Garrison Keillor’s podcast via iTunes: wonderful story-telling! And I wouldn’t be able to listen otherwise as he is not on radio in my area, nor does he tour to our area very often.

    • Maggie April 19, 2011 at 4:32 pm #

      Thanks for the comment, John. I love Garrison Keilor and often listen to him via my iTunes as well. I really like the combination of fiction, non-fiction, and humor that he brings to his show. If you like audio storytelling, I’d also recommend David Sedaris audiobooks and This American Life (on which Mr. Sedaris is often a contributor). Oh, and The Moth podcast is worth checking out as well, much shorted (usually only 5-15 minutes), but very well done.

  6. broadsideblog April 19, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    Yes, but…

    There is something much more powerful about telling one another our stories face to face, not pixel by pixel. We need to know the effect on one another of our stories, whether tears or laughter, sighs or gasps. It’s deeply narcissistic to keep throwing data into the blogosphere without any notion how it’s being received. We can bore the hell out of millions of people!

    I want to hear the voice, see their eyes, and when I am story-telling I need to see and hear what’s compelling — and what’s not.

    I am now out publicizing my new memoir at speaking events and reading, and hearing people respond to it, face to face, is much more interesting to me — to provoke and curate a conversation — than blather on and expect their attention.

    • Maggie April 19, 2011 at 8:00 pm #

      Clearly there’s something intangible about face to face interactions and connections that can’t be replaced across the internet. For example, I’d love to see how you’re all reacting to this post. (I thought my audience was going to be around 50 or so of my friends and family members. Guess I was wrong…)

      I used to work at a book store and so looked forward to author visits. I hope you events are going well!

  7. Tantrachick April 19, 2011 at 10:11 am #

    I agree as well. Sometimes I post a random thought and then receive a comment from a total stranger who triggers additional related thoughts. A story is born or remembered through this process.

    Thanks so much for sharing! I love story telling and was pleased to see a post dedicated to the art.

    In Community, Joy

  8. ALIVEalways April 19, 2011 at 10:17 am #

    I believe you when you say we have increased our story telling or any telling for that matter, duly accredited to the social media and internet spark.
    Also, in recent studies it has been found that use of modern language such as emotions, abbreviated texts have enhanced the cognitive abilities of children amidst deciphering the abbreviations.
    But, I believe that art of story telling is limited to a few. Not everyone can tell a good story, people are more likely to write it out than to tell it orally. Twitter does help in constraining the words, and people have done well to express their opinion, but story telling is a different thing, not everyone can write a good article, not everyone can write a novel, not everyone can write for everyone, they are limited in their thoughts and actions.

  9. Jamie Greening April 19, 2011 at 10:20 am #

    congrats on FP!
    i have an affinity for books, but i agree with your premise. the medium of the story matters, but it neither stops nor starts the story. the story originates in the storyteller and germinates until it finds an audience. human beings must tell stories, and we will use what is available–twitter, fb, blog or cave walls.

  10. erinjamison April 19, 2011 at 10:22 am #

    You know…this is a really great challenge. I was going to and still will be posting a freebie excerpt of a story on fan fiction. I never thought about doing something like this. I just might have to try this out for myself.

    You can follow me on Twitter under http://twitter.com/erinjamisoncom or Facebook at http://facebook.com/pages/erin-jamison-author

    http://erinjamison.com

  11. Sajeevs blog April 19, 2011 at 10:35 am #

    Yes, social media is a great storyteller. On twitter your posts could tell a lot about your moods and a collection of your tweets could tell a lot about your interests. Similarly many are attracted by the ‘blog to book’idea wherein your blog could be published as a book someday:-)

    • Maggie April 19, 2011 at 8:03 pm #

      I tend to assume that the vast majority of bloggers are hoping to make the blog to book transition someday. Obviously, I’m not there. (For my subject, I’d probably need at least a Masters in cultural studies.) But, everyone can dream…

  12. vixter2010 April 19, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    I definitely think things are evolving and a story serial has been done before and wil be again but I think the idea of a story on Twitter would be tricky 🙂 The blog format would be easier and many do use it for their fiction. Overall tho, I don’t want to give up the paperbook!

    • Maggie April 19, 2011 at 8:07 pm #

      There’s something intimate and comfortable about curling up with a good paperback that can’t be replicated by anything with wires. Also, laptops and tea don’t mix that well!

  13. fornormalstepfathers April 19, 2011 at 11:05 am #

    It would be much cooler to sit around the bonfire and tell our stories, but alas, times changed 🙂

    I do not use twitter, but as far as I understand, it is not intended for story telling, plus you can always post there the link to your story 🙂

  14. CrystalSpins April 19, 2011 at 11:06 am #

    Check out Brevity (http://www.creativenonfiction.org/brevity/) and Six Sentences (http://sixsentences.blogspot.com/) for some flash non-fiction.

    There are also quite a few people trying to tell stories in 140 characters and it has been going on for years: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/award_winning_fiction_in_140_characters.php
    http://www.physorg.com/news164613015.html
    http://www.copyblogger.com/twitter-writing-contest/

    Also, I can’t help but look at people’s Facebook updates and create the stories of their lives around them that have prompted the updates.

    Good luck with your (super) short stories.

    Crystal

  15. joanierobi April 19, 2011 at 11:17 am #

    Congrats on FP! Nice post and thanks for the links – interesting stuff.

  16. Alecia April 19, 2011 at 11:21 am #

    Hello Maggie,

    I really liked this post. 🙂 It did bring up a question for me though. Why is storytelling so important in relation to digital social media?

    When I first heard about the importance of storytelling in today’s tech world, I was a little confused. Storytelling doesn’t seem that important to me. But Guy Kawasaki and other ‘connected’ people I’ve read about stress storytelling’s importance.

    Why do you think digital storytelling is important?

    • Maggie April 19, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

      Hmmm. For me, I guess I’ve never questioned that story telling is important. I think of it as a basic way that we interact with and connect with each other. It bonds people together and forges shared experiences.

      I’ve always been really interested in the study of what myths and creation stories say about a culture. I think that you can tell a lot about a people and what they value from the stories that they tell. Are you familiar with the Horatio Alger stories? Stories are often shorthand for our hopes as fears.

      My real interest in writing this is that we don’t lose storytelling’s place in our culture as we become a more physically disconnected society.

  17. kaleighsomers April 19, 2011 at 11:41 am #

    I agree with you and Cosco. Imagine if we had twitter accounts for characters in novels? I know Lord Voldemort´s got one. How cool would that be to construct an entire novel devoted entirely to telling it´s story through Twitter. 140 characters at a time. Each mini story would have to be extremely important and eye–catching, demanding writers to tell a succinct story worth reading. I´m inspired by the social media accessibility we have today. Yes, many more people can tell stories and some of them are unnecessary accounts of daily activities, but if we sift through the web, won´t we find the brilliant storytellers who might´ve not been heard 30 years ago because one agent said ¨no¨ to them and they gave up?

    • Maggie April 19, 2011 at 8:17 pm #

      Actually, there are fanfiction communities based on this idea. (Unfortunately, I’ve been out of that world for too long and I think most of them are friends only, so I’m unable to provide you with a link.) I remember a few Harry Potter communities in which each participant was assigned a character. Someone was controlling the overall story arc and would send a plot update to everyone every day or so. Then they would each write a journal entry for their character as if it were taking place in real time. And, they would comment back and forth in character. It was fantastic.

  18. Gypsy Queen April 19, 2011 at 11:46 am #

    4 best words in the English language:
    Tell me a story

    followed closely by:
    Once upon a time…

    • Maggie April 19, 2011 at 8:19 pm #

      In alter server training the priest asked us if we knew the 3 most important words said in a mass. One kid guessed “mass is ended”. Another thought it was “coffee and donuts”. The priest was going for “let us prey”.

  19. Ava Aston's Muckery April 19, 2011 at 11:49 am #

    There is an art to being able to express your feelings or thoughts in social networking arena.

    When someone reads a book, they normally read a book alone doing nothing else. However, when people read Facebook posts, Twitter or even blogs they could be doing a number of things simultaneously, like:

    Driving
    Running
    Walking
    Eating
    Working
    Buying stamps at the Post office (quit texting and put down your cellphone and buy your stamps already)

    So, in my opinion content in social media needs to be more engaging than standard storytelling – just sayin’

    Blessings,

    Ava
    xox

  20. lucasnevalainen April 19, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

    =)

  21. Ashley Nicole Summers April 19, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

    I never considered that my status updates and Tweets would be my legacy. Maybe I should take them more seriously!

    • Listener April 19, 2011 at 11:59 pm #

      And to think, for millenia the vast majority of people existed with no record of their existence other than their DNA. I suppose we are lucky.?! This should be motivation to make use of the new-found ease with with we can create.

      At what point will historians, museums, or historical societies start to preserve and catalogue the virtual world? It seems quite a daunting task to take a snapshot of the entire web. Since things online are always changing, you’d need to somehow capture everything at once if you wanted a representative view of the web of 2011, for example.

  22. oreillydavis April 19, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    Hi Maggiecakes!

    I love your page (decor and message). I have the same question, too, about writing in this age of technology. I love writing, but need to know to effectively put my story ‘out there’, in an age where attention spans are shrinking.

    As much as I would like to have my work published on ‘paper’, I’ve heard that’s a dying medium. As well, the politics of getting a book published is a royal hassle, from what I’ve heard from other authors. You compromise a line, word, a paragraph, and, bit by bit YOUR story disappears. So you get published, but you hardly recognize the end result from what you started out with, which is counter-productive to why an author wants to get published. I don’t want to tell my editor’s stories, but my own. Talk about ‘the devil in the details’, huh?

    That said, do you have any recommendations for someone who wants to be an online author? For me, it’s not even about money, as I have a job and I’m also realistic about making a living off writing. Those who have been able to live off their work are a blessed few. This is a far cry from my idealistic youth, when I had great plans on writing and making a fortune off every book.

    Again, keep up the good work!

    • Maggie April 19, 2011 at 5:00 pm #

      It’s nice to hear someone say that it’s about sharing their story, not about making money. I’m not an author, but I do spend a lot of time reading about books and cool new trends in that industry. Have you read of Amanda Hocking? She’s a young writer who self-published her books on Amazon and set a low price point so that people wouldn’t be scared to take a risk on trying one of her books. She’s made over $1,000,000 (I know you said that’s not the point for you, but I’m sure you wouldn’t turn it down), and developed quite a following. You can read more about her on Jezebel. Also, the Espresso Book Machine makes it really easy for any eBook to become a physical book, so that way, even if you publish online, you could have some copies for friends, family, etc. (I’m kind of obsessed with the Espresso Book Machine and its implications for the future of books. I’m sure I’ll have a post about it soon.)

  23. Tessa Rickart April 19, 2011 at 12:53 pm #

    What a great post! I love the idea of looking at all our social networking as a story. These tweets, messages, and updates will be around much longer than we ourselves might be, and they really do tell a story about who we are.
    I really enjoyed your post and it gave me a lot to think about. Thank you!

  24. T. April 19, 2011 at 2:01 pm #

    Social media and narrative is something I participate in alost everyday, and is the basis for my blog. It also serves as a theme for much of Douglad Coupland’s work- addressing storytelling in a post-Microsoft, post-videogame, post-consumerist society.

  25. Jon Plsek April 19, 2011 at 2:22 pm #

    Thieves go where the money is, storytellers go where the people are–right now people are online. Every post on twitter is just one more sentence in the story of ourselves. Every photo on flickr is another freeze frame. Wherever people are, that’s where stories will be told.

    • Maggie April 19, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

      I totally agree. Very well said.

  26. ingrebourne April 19, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

    Fully agree with this. I started my own blog at WordPress as a run-off, or an outlet as a part of other writing projects, not really knowing what purpose it would serve or where it would meander. New(-ish) to social media I am surprised to see that even what I have written is developing a form of voice and narrative, exactly as described in these posts here! Very interesting observations.

    • Maggie April 19, 2011 at 4:48 pm #

      I’m newish to blogging, too. I had the standard whine about my life blog in college, but somehow I don’t think that really count. Developing a voice and style is difficult, but it’s something that I’m working on. If you read a lot of my posts you may realize that I enjoy the word “that” way more than is useful and that I like to start sentences with “and” which I’ve been told is not, strictly speaking, allowed. But, I say it’s my blog and it works for me, so it stays. I hope that you have success in developing your as well.

  27. chadsorg April 19, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

    thnx Maggie. We have a story, it’s a Reno story. It’s about an exhibition of art, taking place in run down motel rooms, here in Reno.

    We had a feature story written about us and SFMOMA’S blog called us “notorious”. We’re getting some national publicity and we’ve been around only 5 years. We’ve had over 350 artists and performers involved so far, and there are no plans to stop.

    I’d love to hear more people telling our story as it’s something substantial. We are fans of anarchy, defined as mutual self-interest, and this ideal has made our voice blossom.

    Hit me back if I can share more with you.. that or just google us.

  28. chadsorg April 19, 2011 at 3:10 pm #

    oops.. forgot to mention that feature story: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/22/us/22reno.html

    New York Times.

  29. angelatisone April 19, 2011 at 3:17 pm #

    I LOVED your post. This is something I never considered before as a social media junkie, but you are dead-on. Our means of communication may be changing, but the basic premise of story-telling is still there. Kudos!

  30. jordoncloud April 19, 2011 at 3:17 pm #

    I am a twenty something and I much prefer non-fiction stories! It is important for me to hear about the things happening in the world beyond my centralized location. After moving away to college I became so much more aware of the idea that there is SO much out there. I came from a large city to a not so large college town and social media is a way for me to connect with stories from all over the world. I think that you can tell a story on twitter but without mixed media, etc. the story can never be fully realized.

  31. suittoimpress April 19, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

    Social Media is changing the marketing and PR industry immensely. These fields are highly competitive to make a start in, but Social Media is bringing in more job opportunities. While seeking an internship this summer, I’ve stumbled upon countless Social Media Intern opportunities. I think it’s fantastic that companies are looking forward and realizing Social Media ranges from quirky status updates to live play-by-plays for companies and professionals. I really enjoy this topic and look forward to reading more of your articles!

    Danielle H.

    http://suittoimpress.wordpress.com

  32. The Water is Deep April 19, 2011 at 4:56 pm #

    While what we post online does become our Legacy I think that it all to often compromises ‘true warm blooded’ relationships in that we have forgotten how to communicate ‘eye to eye’ as well as we, have learned to Bully people by ‘unfriending’ them publically or creating insecurities by not responding quickly enough to a Text or Message.

    So while Texting,Facebooking and all the other wonderful ways of the New World help us to connect…. I say… Have a cup of Coffee with a Friend! Connect eye to eye… and don’t forget to turn your phone off when you do. Be in the Moment.

    • Maggie April 19, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

      You’re right that online communication can’t ever fully replace in person interactions. But, as we’re spending so much of our time communicating online, I’d like foe that communication to be as rich as possible.

  33. Rob April 19, 2011 at 6:03 pm #

    I agree with your perspective, but it’s also worth remembering storytelling isn’t something new that’s only possible because of social media – the principals are the same as they’ve always been and we shouldn’t lose sight of that.

  34. charlie nitric April 19, 2011 at 6:45 pm #

    Hi Maggie – While I believe that social media sites definitely have their merit as far as being more connected is concerned, this increased connectivity does not translate into better communication. I do believe that the art of verbal story-telling is declining, while the written form of telling an event should improve (i.e. evolve) as stated in your post above.

    However, most people are extremely poor communicators and lazy. Texts rarely say very much concrete, and messenger folks take the short road when communicating too.
    http://charlienitric.wordpress.com/

    • The Artful Scribbler April 19, 2011 at 7:43 pm #

      I agree. I have seen a shocking lack of basic grammar skills from many of the younger people I receive emails from. Maybe someone needs to make an app that charges the sender for sending tweets with improper punctuation. It does make a difference in the real world to have some semblance of language skills.

  35. convictstock April 19, 2011 at 6:46 pm #

    I am a teacher and I must say that there is no experience to rival reading a story aloud to a group of children and watching the rapt expressions on their faces – that said, Hemingway wrote a story using only six words…For sale: baby shoes, never used

    • Maggie April 19, 2011 at 6:49 pm #

      I think that’s the saddest story that I’ve herd.

      • Listener April 20, 2011 at 12:06 am #

        This one is sadder – who will maintain my Facebook page when I die? What if someone tags an embarrassing picture of me and I’m too dead to delete it? hahahahaha

  36. georgettesullins April 19, 2011 at 7:02 pm #

    Two thoughts: Remember the Taster’s Choice commercials that led viewers to their own liminal space, episode after episode, minute after minute? I loved those!

    And, a friend of ours lived out a real life, life and death story. As his wife posted updates on fb, we kept him in our thoughts and prayers. We put ourselves in the seats of our computers to find out news. Thankfully, it came out well. And still, another friend had an interesting experience…and so it goes, life’s stories.

  37. The Artful Scribbler April 19, 2011 at 7:38 pm #

    I’m afraid I don’t agree. If a person only communicates in short blurbs there is not a story there. A story requires involvement and if done right immersion of the reader or listener. Communication through Tweet twit blib whatever is simply that, a communication. Nothing wrong with communication, but that is all it is. A story is different. I believe that people of all ages crave a well done comprehensive story. Look at the popularity of Harry Potter. Rowling did not have any magic (despite what some zealots say) other than a gift for drawing a reader in and telling them a story.

    • newsy1 April 19, 2011 at 8:27 pm #

      I agree. A twitter comment is just that, a comment. You could string 10 twitter comments and not come up with a story. Of course, I’m an old editor from back-in-the-day and some aspects of social media have made people lazy.

    • Glen Parks April 20, 2011 at 12:27 am #

      I agree, Scribbler. To me, a story has a beginning, a middle and an end. The problem with suggesting that Twitter, Facebook or blogs are stories is that they don’t really have a coherent structure or point…

      • The Artful Scribbler April 23, 2011 at 6:27 am #

        Yes, a point. A good story has a point of some sort. I agree that social media can achieve some great things, such has the reporting and communication of people in Egypt, Iran or a place like that. The challenge to anyone who wishes to have their Tweet or Facebook post taken as a story to be interesting to stranger is to have enough comprehensive structure. Most of what is posted are reports of people going to the shoe store and who they saw there.

  38. Adrian Pantonial April 19, 2011 at 7:39 pm #

    I agree. Social media has definitely caused another evolution in the art of story-telling.

    Fiction certainly sell at bookstores but real life stories told and composed through Facebook wall posts or Tweets, are a run-away best seller of all time.

  39. shepherdesswrites April 19, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

    There is an application on Facebook that shows all your status (statuses? stati? whatever) over the previous year and it is quite fascinating to see the story as it sort of unfolds. Of course, if you only update once every six months saying “so and so is tired” it isn’t much of a story, but if you are a fairly regular updater, it is really interesting.

  40. Thomas Claridge April 19, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

    Wanted to let you know that I think your blog is a great and enjoy reading your articles.
    I also wanted to invite you to tweet your blog for free with my website BlogBuzzer.com

    Thomas

  41. Mama Bear Ping April 19, 2011 at 8:23 pm #

    Can I just say “thanks” for writing this post? I happened upon it (congrats on FP, btw) and it helped me with an idea I’ve had rambling in my brain for several months now. You’ve reignited the spark of this idea. Before it was a “maybe”; now it’s a “strong possibility.”

    I’ve been trying to reconcile social media and story-telling in a new way, and your post helped me realize how this could be possible. So, THANKS!

  42. WI Snowflake April 19, 2011 at 8:38 pm #

    So true! So true. When I was younger and in college I wanted to be an author. I used to write quite a bit. Then life kind of caught me by surprise, and I got to the point I could not write because it was too much of an emotional investment. I can’t tell how many journals I bought and wrote in it 1 – 2 days and it ended. The next tactic I used is to not write complete sentences, just words. My journals may have met it a week. Most recently I started blogging and the words just flow from me. I don’t know what caused it. It just happened. I am so happy that I can write again.

  43. The Artful Scribbler April 19, 2011 at 8:40 pm #

    Speaking of which, I’m getting peoples comments in my email inbox. This does not constitute story. It is annoying.

  44. Y8 April 19, 2011 at 9:58 pm #

    I agree. Social media has definitely caused another evolution in the art of story-telling. Thank you!

  45. fox loves angel April 19, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

    What a great post!I really love your interesting idea!!!Thank you for your sharing!!!

  46. Pollyanna April 20, 2011 at 2:45 am #

    You raise some interesting points that I had never even considered. From an imaginative point of view, the Internet is our Otherworld, a mythic realm where all things are possible. If you can imagine it, you can find it in this Otherworld. What better forum for telling stories.
    Thanks for making me ponder x

  47. doronio April 20, 2011 at 2:46 am #

    Congrats on being featured on FP! While I did enjoy the article, I couldn’t completely agree with it. Yes, we all write parts to our own stories via tweet or status updates. However, not everyone is a good storyteller. There are many elements to take into consideration.

    I suppose this brings up: what makes a good story? what is good?

    Thank you for presenting this idea to us readers! Excellent pondering material.

  48. Katie Gou April 20, 2011 at 4:04 am #

    I think it’s sweet that social media is accidentally telling the story of our generation. In years to come, I will be intrigued as we look back our Facebook and Twitter and document our lives. Maybe I’ll be embarrassed to show my kids whenever they arrive!

  49. Irfan April 20, 2011 at 4:16 am #

    Once upon a time I commented on your post and that comment was another story 🙂
    Indeed a great post and now I have a different opinion for facebook and twitter (A story telling view 😉 …)

  50. frizztext April 20, 2011 at 5:09 am #

    After all, we’re all writing our autobiographies, whether we know it or not…

  51. richannkur April 20, 2011 at 5:36 am #

    Congrats on being freshly pressed.

  52. matthewhyde April 20, 2011 at 5:47 am #

    Really not got much to add, but just wanted to say how much I enjoyed this article. It’s given me some food for thought for my own blog – I’m attracted to some of the subjects I’ve talked about because, beneath the surface, is an interesting story. That’s blogging though; I’m not sure if it entirely works with Twitter, but then you see the Tweets emerging from the Middle Eastern revolutions and they start to coalesce into something bigger and more powerful…

  53. l0ve0utl0ud April 20, 2011 at 6:19 am #

    You’re right – we are all telling our story through social networks and blogging sites. It is an amazing way to share ideas and experiences, and allows to meet like-minded people across the world. And I believe that as with the Dickens example, a blog could no doubt turn into a novel.

  54. sococom April 20, 2011 at 6:27 am #

    Thank you for this post.
    Using social media is for me too like story-telling. My own story. But somehow we are via FB, Twitter, Blogs, … involved in another story that shapes our perception and constructs our reality. Your Post reminded me on a lecture at my university, where we spoke about mass-media (tv, cinema) as the new “myth”, like the new “big stories” or “narratives”, which create identity and community. Isn’t it the same with social media? (Just there are more story-tellers involved…)

  55. luciasallustio April 20, 2011 at 7:07 am #

    I perfectly agree with everything you say. Dickens was also a great example to support your thesis. of course writing short stories over Twitter responds to the fast pace of our times but it stands high as the evolution of the old stories told by our grandmothers. How could our children listen to stories and learn telling new ones, whatever genre they are, fiction o reality, if they hadn’t the chance to read them on Internet?
    I’ll write soon about fiction and technology on my blog.

  56. Michael Sacasas April 20, 2011 at 8:30 am #

    Well, written post that raises significant questions. Admittedly, I stopped reading the comment thread about three quarters of the way down, so this might be redundant, but here is my thought:

    It might be good to define “story” more carefully. The impulse to tell a story is universal, it is how we make sense of ourselves. But what counts as a story? One could say that a picture tells a story, but in reality it elicits a story from the observer’s mind. It does not, by itself, communicate a narrative. It seems that social media is good at creating a database rather than a narrative. In other words, social media can assemble a vast amount of data from which a narrative could be drawn; in fact, it may very well invite a narrative, but it does not, typically, by itself create that narrative.

  57. plantainperiodicals April 20, 2011 at 8:42 am #

    I think its great what social media has allowed us to do! communicating with peoplke all around the world, electronically compiling data that years back we can refer to. Storytelling is so imprtant because it gives something to refer back to, I love it!

  58. creativeconfessions April 20, 2011 at 9:34 am #

    Love your perspective on this. It’s true, we’re all unknowingly writing our autobiographies…

    Congratz on FP!

  59. I definitely think things are evolving and a story serial has been done before and wil be again but I think the idea of a story on Twitter would be tricky 🙂 The blog format would be easier and many do use it for their fiction. Overall tho, I don’t want to give up the paperbook!

  60. conalart April 21, 2011 at 4:36 am #

    I started writing my own story on my blog then it kind of got corrupted with me introducing another story line into it.

    Every time I meet somebody I put them into the story but change their name to protect them, or is it me I want to protect, not sure!

    Now I’m going to have to write another blog separate to my other blog just to keep all of my readers interested…

    And as for social media I cannot believe how it now appears to own much of what I do.

    Thanks for your blog, keep me informed…

    Thanks

    Conal

  61. teamjonny7 April 21, 2011 at 4:38 am #

    I this world every one has a story to tell. Social networking has actually brought all those story tellers close to each other. 😀

    Vishal Sharma

  62. thor27 April 23, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

    I read freshly pressed almost daily
    Check out my blog sometime.
    “Whatcha need Got you covered in Northwest Houston,Tx.”

  63. I agree as well. Sometimes I post a random thought and then receive a comment from a total stranger who triggers additional related thoughts. A story is born or remembered through this process.

    Thanks so much for sharing! I love story telling and was pleased to see a post dedicated to the art.

  64. Amanda Cosco April 27, 2011 at 12:20 am #

    Thanks for reading!

  65. abhishek May 1, 2011 at 6:28 am #

    interesting post

    • Ashish May 2, 2011 at 5:51 am #

      Very true. The story has to have something for everyone, or else it wont last.

  66. I think there is some weight behind the idea that increasing digital interaction reduces our physical presence / analog interactions. However, it also opens up new worlds and possibilities, too. For instance, I regularly listen to Garrison Keillor’s podcast via iTunes: wonderful story-telling! And I wouldn’t be able to listen otherwise as he is not on radio in my area, nor does he tour to our area very often.

    • Maggie June 14, 2011 at 8:29 pm #

      I love Garrison Keillor and listen to it on my iPod. That and This American Life. I guess it’s dorky, but I bike on a trail while listening to NPR podcasts…

      If you like storytelling podcasts, have you heard The Moth? Two very enthusiastic thumbs up.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The courage of storytelling « RiverChilde - April 19, 2011

    […] a story via Twitter? What about Facebook? Various bloggers have taken up the gauntlet, including Maggiecakes of WordPress, who argues that “we’re all writing our autobiographies, whether we know it […]

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  5. Social Media and the Art of Storytelling (via MaggieCakes) « - April 19, 2011

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  11. Social Media and the Art of Storytelling (via MaggieCakes) | sococom - April 20, 2011

    […] Interessanter Artikel, den ich gerade gefunden habe. Social Media und Geschichten erzählen…geht es nicht immer darum? Auf Facebook, Twitter, diesem Blog erzähle ich über mich, erzähle andere Geschichten und bin verstrickt in ein Netz von Geschichten, die  einen Teil meiner Lebenswelt bilden, meiner Wahrnehmung von Realität und damit identitätsstiftend wirken. Wir sind Teil eines großen Mythos.  Nach Wilhelm Schapp “Verstricktsein-in-Geschichten”. A few days ago, Chris Sullivan of MyNorthwest.com wrote an article called “The art of storytelling in a world of technology”.  He asked if you can tell a story over Twitter and wondered if the limitations of the medium limited the message.  He quoted professional storyteller Anne Rutherford as saying “Whatever their age, whatever their circumstance, if its a good story and its well told we completely have the ability to respond to that. However … Read More […]

  12. Another blogger, same conclusion « Andry's Blog - April 20, 2011

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  13. Social Media and the Art of Storytelling (via MaggieCakes) « Cathybok's Blog - April 20, 2011

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  15. Tell me a story « birdwingwords - April 21, 2011

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  16. Social Media and the Art of Storytelling | Gadget Corral - April 21, 2011

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  29. Social Media and the Art of Storytelling (via MaggieCakes) « Ridgian - May 5, 2011

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  31. Social Media and the Art of Storytelling (via MaggieCakes) | wine luchador - May 28, 2011

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