I have to be honest. Storytelling is pretty much the biggest thing on my mind nowadays.
Storytelling is an intrinsic characteristic of just about everything we as humans do. It acts as a bridge between ideas, memories, people, societies, the old and the new, human-computer interaction, the tedium of science, and our relationships with the gods. Storytelling is the means by which we communicate understanding to others, and perhaps more importantly to ourselves.
Storytelling is all about that meta-contextualization! And it may very well be the most important thing in the world. As far as I can tell it's not speech that makes us human, but the stories we're able to tell with speech (and any other medium we can get our hands on or create) that most nearly captures not only the spirit of who and what we are, but who or what we can become.
So I contemplate the narratives that exist in our society, and the narratives woven in and around my life.. and I've come to a conclusion. I'm going to spend the rest of my life learning to become a better storyteller. I'd even go so far as to say you should too.
Becoming a better storyteller isn't just about telling people better stories about other people, but telling yourself better stories about yourself. It's about weaving your personal story in and out of other stories, and then weaving other people's stories together in ways they never even considered.
This isn't just esoteric, psychological, feel good stuff. Storytelling is more then just the message, it's also the medium. And we have all these newfangled digital mediums with which we convey ourselves, our hopes, dreams, brands, altruistic endeavors, belief in higher ideals, and the practical tedium that makes the world go around and puts food on our tables. In the meantime, many of us have lost the art of effectively presenting ourselves and our worlds to other people. Let alone do so via new 21st century media.
It's no wonder so many people seem so unhappy. If you have no control over your own personal story, nor an accurate understanding of how the world around you works, everything can seem like a struggle. And that becomes the story you become a character in.
This brings us to two related modern myths: first, technology exists to make things easier, and second, technology is inherently dehumanizing. The first isn't a bad myth. In fact, I'd agree with the sentiment that laziness is the mother of invention and that this isn't a bad thing. In fact, innovation is one of the key drivers of economic growth! It creates new process, new knowledge, new jobs (while often cutting out legacy jobs that are no longer needed), and generates new experiences from which to tell new stories. It doesn't make us less than we are, it makes us more than we were. (A corollary to this is that innovation also creates more work rather than less.)
And so I have to reiterate my strong conviction that technology doesn't dehumanize us, it makes us more human. Rather, it's the bad storytelling that accompanies technology that dehumanizes us. We've lost sight of our ability to think mythologically about things and so our technology, business processes, daily interactions, etc often lack that human narrative we so desperately need.
And the solution to these sorts of problems must always begin with personal narrative. It's this personal narrative that I've been trying to figure out. How do I present myself and interact in relation to others? What is my relationship with this technology that increasingly permeates our lives, and how can live in harmony with it to meet and perhaps try to exceed my maximum potential? How do I tell my own story so that it connects with the stories of others in meaningful, personal, financially gainful, altruistic, and fun ways?
I've got some ideas, but the answer is in the execution and experience of them. And medium is just as important as message.