‘Storytelling On Steroids’ Dives Into The Internet’s Infatuation With Narrative

A look at John Weich’s analysis of the web’s obsession with storytelling, aided by the advent of social media.

This following is an excerpt from the book Storytelling on Steroids by John Weich and was republished with kind permission. You can purchase the book in the U.S. and the U.K.

Right now, this very minute, a junior copywriter is adding “storyteller” to his Facebook profile. There is a gaming developer doing the same on LinkedIn. A PR agent is casually including “teller of stories” in his Twitter bio. Graphic designers, journalists, editors, broadcasters, coders, model makers, set designers, ginormous brands, ocean explorers, astronauts, schoolteachers, CEOs, marketing directors, creative consultants and trend watchers are peppering their websites, blogs and email signatures with the word “storytelling.”

In this book, I explore why: Where did all this storytelling come from? Why are we suddenly so eager to spread the storytelling gospel? And who blazed the trail for an Age of Storytelling in mainstream communication?

But first, I’ll state the obvious: storytelling is nothing new. Despite its deceptively brand-new sheen, storytelling never went away. Storytelling has simply reemerged at the nexus of technology, social media and entertainment, rejuvenated by a communication industry dealing with an anarchic landscape of digital distractions, and reinvented for a public overwhelmed by information and constantly seeking out new impulses.

Social-Media-Storytelling-Smartphone

What we’re experience isn’t a radical new movement but a storytelling renaissance, one fueled by the social media and mobile gadgetry most of us use every hour of every day. The omniscient, addictive technologies have played a vital role in evolving the age-old idea of storytelling into something more truthful, more interactive, more immersive, more collaborative, more relevant and, almost always, more fun. As the president of LA content generator 42 Entertainment, Susan Bonds, told me, “The things we talked about in the 1990s, like immersion and interactivity, simply weren’t technically possible.”

Yet while I credit the Internet and its social media prodigies for “changing the way we think, read and remember,” I purposely avoid overplaying their hand. They are certainly the key instigator of the renaissance using the quintessential tools of this new kind of narrative. But I am more interested in how artists, admen, gamers, musicians, publishers, PR and other contemporary creatives have injected these tools into their trades.

Because once technology did, in Bonds’ words, makes those “things” possible at the turn of the millennium, it unleashed a creative angst on a scale unprecedented since the advent of TV — all chaos, fear and paradigm shifting.

Storytelling on Steroids

Images: Mathias Ervyn, Jason A. Howie

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