Story-sharing is what I call storytelling in the 21st century. Let me share a story with you. On September 11, 2001 I was in College submerged in my major: Media Communications. I remember that day clearly. It was probably the most emotional day in American history. But the story did not begin and end in the United States. The story went viral around the world as it was happening.
YouTube was created in 2005 and bought by Google in 2006. Facebook was created in 2004 but limited to Harvard as a social network. Twitter was created in 2006. What we had before these social platforms were many websites and blogs. If you wanted to publish media and share it you needed to create a website or blog which was a little complicated for the average person. I should know, I took a class on html and created 6 or so websites with no purpose other than the challenge.
Today, we have many social media platforms to choose from and they are available to the general public regardless of age. But where story-sharing really begins is with mobile media.
Can you imagine if we had smartphones with cameras in 2001 what September 11th would have been like? Back then, people would not have to be in front of a television depending on the mainstream media to broadcast the story of what was happening. We would have shot videos and photos and shared them instantly through Twitter, Facebook, Periscope, YouTube, SnapChat and Instagram; to name a few. Blogs would have been sharing the “news” from a different perspective instantly. We would have been walking around or at coffee shops consuming and sharing experiences through stories. And the world would have gobbled it up as it is currently consuming events throughout the world shared through our smartphones and its cameras.
Back then, we depended on “professionals” to share stories from people who were living and experiencing that day in 2001. Journalists are bound by a code of ethics, much like lawyers and doctors, as professionals. My major in college included many journalism courses and I took some that were not required because I found journalism interesting and I was attracted to it as a form of storytelling from a different perspective.
In my video production work, working for a production company, we made a lot of videos for nonprofits and charities. These videos were usually made as documentaries which would serve a purpose in seeking funds for a specific program needed in society or community. We interviewed individuals and invited them to share their stories. I thrived during interviews. I learned the most about life and empathy through the many interviews we conducted. We interviewed a victim of something and then interviewed an authority, for example, with a different perspective. Nothing I ever learned in schools and college could teach me what I learned through the research involved in creating a video documentary.
Stories were told by someone through an interview and then their story would be cut into pieces in the production office. Some clips were included in the final video and some were discarded. Some interviews didn’t even make it in the first draft. A script is created which transforms during the production process. The story is very much curated to the focus of the story being told. This is not what happens in social media.
In social media we pretty much find raw videos posted by “witnesses” without much planning. Live streams are not edited in any way. We witness events as they happen. Sometimes with Live stream videos on Facebook and other platforms. Periscope, a Twitter live video platform, still makes the news with some videos where users are live streaming themselves breaking laws or providing content for the news which the news was not present to record.
Today, we know many social media platforms want to jump on the live video platform. Personally, I like videos to be shot in a horizontal manner because we see more of the “picture” that way. Just had to throw my opinion in here. On your phone it may look okay if you don’t rotate the screen, but on any other screen it’s a limited view of what you can see and annoying to watch. It’s like peeking in a doorway that is partially closed.
What live or edited video does today is that it enables anyone with a smartphone to participate in story-sharing. Shoot with your phone and share it with the world and the options seem endless for most of us. Sharing stories has a value for all of us as consumers. Reading stories takes time and focus which, let’s face it, we don’t have patience for today. We are busy bees! But it also depends on the consumer’s perception and the ability to read and comprehend your writing. Their imagination is sparked and you may not really control what people are imagining and “seeing” in their minds. When we read something there are emotions triggered through our personal memories and experiences.
When we watch a film, such as a movie, we become the protagonist, or main character. We step into someone else’s shoes and experience the story through them. We share their emotions. We “feel” for them. As a filmmaker, you control the consumer’s perception regardless of their own memories and experiences…if you have truly captivated the viewer, of course. Time disappears and the reality of our current environment fades away as we become absorbed by a story told through video.
There is much power in storytelling, but I believe there is a bigger impact in story-sharing. Today, our stories can be told in the same way a filmmaker tells stories through our cameras which are a part of our smartphones. We can all go farther than sharing raw footage/video and control the message and perception of a story through editing. We all have the capability to create and distribute videos of just about any genre with mobile phones. Our smartphones have the capacity to share a story around the globe. You have the power to reach everyone just about anywhere where there is internet. You don’t need to be an engineer to run a smartphone camera as proven by people of all ages who are already shooting and posting videos on social media. You can do some research online and you can watch many videos and films at your leisure paying attention to how they affect you. You can recreate much of what you see yourself through experimentation at no cost.
Mobile media is social media and social media is story-sharing. If you go to any social media platform right now, you will find that most platforms want you to share your stories through video. Twitter live streamed an NFL game to an average of 243,000 people last week. YouTube released Sony’s The Interview in December 2014 after receiving threats of attacks to theatrical venues from North Korea. This morning I watched a live video report about the weather in San Diego on Facebook that was shot on a phone by the weather anchor during a commercial break at her local news station.
My message is simple: you can take part in story-sharing right now. All you need is in your hand or in your pocket. The power is in your hands and it belongs to you.