Monday, January 30, 2012

Communication and Storytelling: Is it all just about getting what you want?

I want you to listen carefully, and take heed. I want you to believe me and believe in me. I want to see your belief and heeding reflected in your actions, as well as your choice in personal accoutrements, henceforth from the moment this message is delivered so that I can believe and take heed too. Belief can be a heavy burden for one person you know—discomforting too. And I want to be comforted, and unburdened. Oh, and I also want guilt-free sex, money, and the praise of my peers. YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEHAAAAW!

Would it be overly cynical, reductive, or perhaps even simplistic to suggest that the point of all this sophisticated communication media, gadgetry, and technological infrastructure is reducible to the servicing of our most basic libidinal drives, and that the rest, the ideology, mythology, and politics—the whole potlatch—might be just a fluffed-up pseudo-reality principle meant to justify our libidos retroactively, and retrospectively? Don't hold me responsible yet. I'm only suggesting it. I'm not sure if I believe it. Belief is too heavy right now. I'm tired, and my back hurts. So does my front for that matter. My top as well. And so on.

In any case, I believe I've begun this post from the position of having preemptively wandered off topic. Weird. And there's no money in it. But maybe I'm not so far off. The writing process is the thinking process as Scott Abbott once said. And it has just occurred to me that—communication, its rhetorical devices, and the syntax it establishes with its audience based on the medium by which it is delivered—is at least one constituent of the whole I'm trying to direct my focus toward. Or in other words, the medium is the message as Marshall McLuhan once said.

News as ads vs. ads as news. Is it just a question of priority at the heart of this issue? If a man bites a dog it's news. If a dog bites a man he needs new running shoes. I'm drifting again.

All I know is that if I'm going to analyze the use of social media by revolutionary political movements, I should read up on some of them. And as much as I hate to say it, reactivating my Facebook account may become prudent at some point.


  1. Jared,

    Thanks, first of all, for the most enjoyable post.

    If you ask a biocultural evolutionary anthropologist about the point of telling stories, I believe you'd get an answer approximating your outburst in the first two paragraphs, above. But that's just me, literally.

    Back to the news. Why not just go after one new social medium? Facebook is the obvious choice, especially given the upcoming IPO, which has meant a great deal more recent analysis of Facebook & Zuckerberg by the traditional media and bloggers alike. But I would lean toward Twitter, especially given the recent tempest over Twitter's decision to come up with some sort of global self-censoring policy.

    And of course, there's always the blogosphere. Most of the influential activists of late in Russia, China, and the Arab world have been high-profile bloggers--at least until censors shut them down.

    At which point, several took to Twitter.

    Meanwhile, money is being made by the bucket. If a person bites the government and everyone starts following this outlaw's further exploits, who can sell what to whom the fastest? (This question dates back to the legend of Billy the Kid and beyond . . .)

  2. Yes, this is a fun topic. I would like to add to Mark's comments with a question about the scope of your project. Are you interested more in the history of the use of media by social movements (say, contrasting the social media of today with the printmedia of the past) or more on focusing specifically on what is going on today (say, with Arab spring)? The faster we narrow it down the faster we find ideas and specific source materials.

    You have set the bar high in terms of the entertainment and curiosity of your posts. I look forward to what comes next.