Seeing my high school students walk down the hallways making films out of every insignificant tick of the second hand, I wonder if we’ll all look back on this era as a true renaissance, a time when technology enabled us to finally create the grandiose visions previously locked up inside our heads. Perhaps all these young minds needed was a piece of technology as awesome as a smart phone to unlock their true potential. We hear the messages the advertisers are sending loud and clear–WE’RE ALL STORYTELLERS! No longer are we consumers; we’re creators.
I teach journalism, and I find this message frightening. By taking the “We are all storytellers” message seriously, my students, really folks of all ages, run the risk of hubristically producing films and projects that abuse all the worst parts of our culture–stereotypical tropes, unlikeable characters, pointless special effects, and Michael Bay level dialogue. I’d choose Aunt Patty and Aunt Selma’s vacation slides any day.
Somehow storytelling became one of those jobs/hobbies/careers that the American everyman feels competent in doing, recreationally or professionally. I believed it in myself as well, for years. Just as I was convinced as a child that even though I didn’t make the junior high basketball team, I had what it took to make it to the NBA (that Michael Jordan story got to all of us).