Introducing the newest ideas in storytelling

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print

Have you ever noticed how often dig­i­tal plat­forms encour­age you to share your sto­ry? You’ll find it every­where. But are peo­ple real­ly emp­ty ves­sels wait­ing to be poured a serv­ing sto­ries?

Like you, I spend a lot of time using the inter­net to find things that inter­est me. I shop online—maybe too much—and I’m inter­est­ed in what oth­er peo­ple have to say about art, music, writ­ing, and tech.

On the one hand, I enjoy read­ing, watch­ing, and lis­ten­ing to sto­ries when they relate to some­thing I’m inter­est­ed in. But sort­ing through the mess of obnox­ious, mean­ing­less sto­ries, adver­tise­ments, and NOISE is a big turn off!

Obnoxious stories are ANNOYING!

Have you ever hit the HIDE but­ton on Face­book or UNFOLLOWED some­one because of a “sto­ry” they shared? I have.

Your neigh­bor may not have con­sid­ered their vaca­tion pho­tos as a “sto­ry,” but it is. It’s a “beat” in the nar­ra­tive of their life. And even though they fol­lowed the internet’s instruc­tions and “told their sto­ry,” you don’t care!! You don’t want to hear their sto­ry. You didn’t ask for it—but got it any­way.

So WHY is there so much story promotion?

Seri­ous­ly! If we don’t want to hear cer­tain sto­ries and go to lengths to “ban” people’s sto­ries from ever enter­ing our feeds again—why do so many plat­forms encour­age sto­ry shar­ing?

Let me intro­duce 2 per­spec­tives for you to con­sid­er.

#1: We’re empty vessels!

Per­spec­tive #1 is that humans are “emp­ty ves­sels” wait­ing to be filled with sto­ries. A ves­sel is a con­tain­er to be filled with liq­uid or some­thing. It exists to be USED; to serve the pur­pose of being filled. (Think about how dif­fi­cult life would be if we didn’t have con­tain­ers to hold liq­uid!) The Bible even talks about ves­sels a lot, and uses them as a metaphor for how a per­son can be use­ful for good works:

“There­fore, if any­one cleans­es him­self from what is dis­hon­or­able, he will be a ves­sel for hon­or­able use, set apart as holy, use­ful to the mas­ter of the house, ready for every good work.” 2 Tim­o­thy 2:21

In the same way that a ves­sel exists to be filled—and to be useful—the “share your sto­ry” move­ment implies that peo­ple are like emp­ty con­tain­ers wait­ing to be filled up with sto­ries. The impli­ca­tion is that we NEED more sto­ries and more peo­ple to share them. If they don’t, we will be left sto­ry­less.

Do you think that’s true? Are you wait­ing to hear ANY and ALL kinds of sto­ry?

If you’re like me, you prob­a­bly will answer NO. No, I do not want to hear any kind of sto­ry that comes along. So…then…why do we keep scrolling on Face­book or Insta­gram? Why do we con­tin­ue to watch movies or shows? Why do we talk to peo­ple and ask ques­tions?

While I don’t want to lis­ten to every sto­ry that comes my way, there is a real­i­ty that humans can “nev­er get enough” sto­ry. We crave it. It’s a deep part of the human expe­ri­ence. We desire to know what hap­pens next. But only some­times! Some­times we do, some­times we don’t. This is why there’s Per­spec­tive #2:

#2: We are NOT open vessels. (I don’t care about your story.)

This con­cept is some­thing no one talks about. What hap­pens when no one cares? What hap­pens if peo­ple don’t care what you have to say?

Plat­forms encour­age users to share their sto­ries, but fail to rec­og­nize that humans are NOT always open ves­sels wait­ing to read, lis­ten, or watch a sto­ry that comes along. Hon­est­ly, I have enough sto­ries to han­dle right now and have a hard time decid­ing what to pri­or­i­tize. Your sto­ry is not that impor­tant. What you ate for break­fast doesn’t mat­ter. We real­ly don’t want to hear your sto­ry.

[share­able cite=“Josh Mitchell”] Humans are NOT open ves­sels wait­ing to read, lis­ten, or watch ANY sto­ry that comes along.[/shareable]

No one is wait­ing to hear your sto­ry. No need to film a video or take a cool pho­to. Keep it to your­self and spare the world of your sto­ry! Please!

We DO want more stories, right?

The prob­lem with “The­o­ry #2” is that it doesn’t address the human desire to WANT sto­ries. We DO want more sto­ries — but we also DON’T want cer­tain sto­ries.

Right now, I AM an emp­ty ves­sel for THESE sto­ries:

  • How my wife’s day was
  • Bet­ter Call Saul, Sea­son 3
  • Ser­i­al Pod­cast, Sea­son 3
  • Any­thing new or note­wor­thy with Macs
  • Any­thing Pixar or Dis­ney releas­es

Any­thing else, right now, is noise. I don’t want to hear it. This may change tomor­row.

What’s the point?

The point of this arti­cle is to sub­mit these two “per­spec­tives” to the dig­i­tal sto­ry­telling move­ment. I know there are more dimen­sions to each of these perspectives—but I haven’t been able to find enough mate­r­i­al that address­es each in depth. If you have some­thing you have found that’s inter­est­ing please let me know in the com­ments.

I have many books on lit­er­ary the­o­ry, cog­ni­tive nar­ra­tive stud­ies, screen­writ­ing, cre­ative writ­ing, and what makes a “good sto­ry.” But there is not much out there that dis­cuss­es our will­ing­ness and resis­tance to receive—then engage—with inter­per­son­al sto­ries, espe­cial­ly those shared online.

Getting practical: Should I share my story?

If peo­ple didn’t share their sto­ries, the world would be a bor­ing place. So, yes, I think you should share your sto­ry. But first, think:

  1. How can this sto­ry become some­one else’s sto­ry?
  2. Why does this sto­ry need to be shared?
  3. What is the most engag­ing way to share this sto­ry?

We need brave, detailed, fun, seri­ous, and spe­cif­ic sto­ry­tellers to con­tin­ue shar­ing sto­ries. We also need new, ener­gized, and dif­fer­ent sto­ry­tellers to step up and try new things; to show us how they see the world and think of things.

[share­able cite=“Josh Mitchell”] We need more brave storytellers.[/shareable]

[reminder]Do you think humans are open ves­sels wait­ing to take in more stories?[/reminder]

You might also like...

Home Delivery Service

Get great articles sent directly to your email inbox.
We value your time and attention and promise never to spam.
Unsubscribe at any time.