Media has never been about telling the whole story. It has never been about giving an actual reflection of what is going on in people's lives. If an alien were to come down and try learn about us through news, literature, film, dance, art and music, she would get the impression that our lives are full of adventure, triumph, trauma, hilarity and romance. Real life is more dull. There is a wonderful scene in the movie adaptation (see below) where Nic Cage's character is struggling to think how to convey the story of a life where nothing much happens. McKee's passionate monologue response puts him in his place, 'Don't waste my time'.
I thought 'Band of Brothers' did a fantastic job of showing even one of our most story-filled genres in a light which is probably close to reality. I count myself very lucky to live in a time of relative peace and not be fighting in a war, so have to use my imagination. Hanks & Spielberg show war as long periods of sheer boredom and nothingness interspersed with absolute panic, fear and intensity. Art and Storytelling combine the high(low)lights. They focus on the drama.
So when we bemoan social media as not a reflection of reality, I find it difficult to point at an alternate medium of communication which is. Even a phone call between two close friends is a condensed version carefully selecting highlights. Fantastic friends are the ones where you are able to just pop by and perhaps even do nothing together. Comfortable silences.
Social media does however give us the chance to shift the story without the need for a commercial sales point since all the friction has been removed. All it needs is a little fire to get it started and a little fear to be overcome. Inside us all is a story teller. We just believe it needs to be perfect. Even professional story tellers aren't perfect. I loved watching Carte Blanche growing up. It was fascinating seeing Derek Watts investigating various shenanigans. But it was only when attention was turned on industries I knew that I realised journalists are just very interested beginners, asking questions. Doctors say the same of medical TV series, and any lawyer attracted to the profession by 'LA Law', 'Damages' or 'Suits' will quickly realise that those time lapse sessions of reading through masses of books don't get fast forwarded in reality. As long as we allow space for people to correct and change things they say, and be critics of their own thoughts, then we can share stories that were previously hidden. It would be a sad world if the only stories we heard were those of people who were good at telling them.
Start a blog, participate in twitter conversations, add a few comments or send me a guest post at firstname.lastname@example.org. Social Media is what we make of it.