The stories we tell in digital

Let’s put aside, for the moment, any and all media that you could dub as being ‘in transition’. Let’s not talk about Netflix and their like and how they affect TV and cinema. Let’s not talk about how the web has disrupted newspapers. Let’s not talk about ebooks.

Instead let’s talk about the stories we tell in digital—the new ones. The ones we weren’t telling before or have been transformed in digital to such an extent as to be unrecognisable.

I’m talking about the storeis that have changed your lives.

First the simple and obvious ones: the story of your sister’s new child, played out on Facebook, all of your relatives—no matter where they are—coming together to add their their own layer to the story; the stories of other people coming out that gave you strength; the story of your aunt handling her illness and the support everybody is giving her.

Social media is the dominant form of storytelling of the 21st century. It’s the one that is the most commonly practiced—near universal among those who have access to the internet. It envelops and assimilates every other story, even the ones that refuse to go digital. It is the primary narrative for the modern experience and the meta-narrative for everything else—mediating and commenting on all other media, offline or online.

It is the stories we tell in digital.

We can avoid it if we want. Easy if we stick to older media with long-standing conventions. The other media may have to operate in a changed context but they aren’t disappearing in any real way. This isn’t about those other media. People love them. They’ll be fine. You can disrupt companies but the only thing a form of art needs is interest. Disrupting a medium is rare. This is about telling better stories in digital. To do so we need to respect it as a medium, love the stories we are already telling, discover the ones that are particularly good, and—finally—we need to discover the stories we aren’t telling. What stories are missing from digital? What do we need more of? What can we do better?

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