The virtual worlds of the internet consume much of our daily lives. In the modern world, more media is being consumed by people than ever before in history. Social media in particular now dominates popular culture and has forever changed the ways that people interact, connect, tell stories and share information and art. The world of social media is both easily addicting and frightening to a great number of people. More and more information about what we do and what we say or post is being stored each day. But how has social media and the way we share our lives on the internet changed the art of storytelling? I would argue that, by and large, stories have over time have remained fairly unchanged in terms of their underlying themes, character archetypes and the constant struggle between the good and the bad, light and dark, etc. But social media is an intriguing thing, because now it isn’t just artists telling stories that reach a mass audience. Anybody can tell a story or even become a story themselves on the internet and social media provides that soap box for every single person on the planet with internet access. I think when you look at what is positive about technological advancements (like smartphones, tablets and lightweight, lightning fast laptops that access the internet and provide access to social media) it is plain to see the advantages. Artists can now tell stories on Twitter or Facebook. They can reach thousands, sometimes millions of people within seconds. Photos, video, words, you name it. It can be posted and instantly seen all across the world. That is a truly powerful tool. R.L. Stine who authored the Goosebumps books actually wrote two short stories on Twitter last year, one tweet at a time across five or six tweets. It is fascinating to see older artists and writers using recent technology in that way. The most negative aspect of this technology that immediately is obvious to me in regards to storytelling is that writers, artists and people in general spend more and more of their precious time staring into glowing smartphone screens. Go for a walk around campus without looking at your phone and count all the people staring down at their phone or tablet while they walk. It is staggering how few people there are these days who are not connected to their phone ALL THE TIME. What is negative about this in my mind is we are moving away from actually experiencing life and drawing our inspiration from reality and nature, not the virtual. If all of our time is spent away from the real sensory experiences of life, how can we create art that is great? How can great art and creativity thrive in a world controlled by the virtual, by intangible media that doesn’t physically exist? I think that the lack of real experiences definitely has a negative effect on the quality of stories that are being told. Social media can be a powerful tool but it can also be a horrible abstraction from the real world which causes people to turn off their brains. And this is coming from a musician who has to constantly use social media to sell merchandise and records.
So there is no definitive answer as always…there are good and bad aspects of technology which affect all aspects of our lives and which certainly affect storytelling.