Monday, April 27, 2015

Storytelling and the social media age

Searching for gigs is like panning for gold on the putting green of a golf course. The internet is an ocean with possibilities, so vast that it makes the search harder.

You want an easier search, you pay a provider to include you. Does it mean your work is quality? Hemming and hawing could be done, but it comes down to money rather than skill. Money for professional photos and editted video, money to add listings by area of the country and even more if you want or need a national listing. You want to be included with enough detail to interest prospective clients, pull out those dollars as it has nothing to do with talent, appeal or skill. Professionalism already shook its proverbial head and quietly left.

Being found or being considered when you send out lines is even harder; so many fish in the sea and so many vivid, amazing, incredible pr fliers, cards, emails, and ads for so many folks that may or may not be what their flashy ads suggest.

I marvel at the momentous effort required, the frustration of finding knock off princess pseudo-cosplay characters getting gigs as if they were entertainers rather than cheap imitations that people are content to trick themselves into paying for. Hire real entertainment, people who have worked for years considering their performance as important. Performance versus appearance, performance versus an ad campaign.

I cringe at calling myself a storyteller, as everyone tells stories. The word brings to mind someone tedious and long winded rehashing tired stories someone else wrote. Wrong. Entirely wrong. I know amazing storytellers who deserve recognition for their skill. Brother Donald, Joshua Safford and Terry Foy, all gifted, practiced and incredible.
Have we reached a point in civilization where instead of veneration, storytelling is seen as a lesser valued trade? Storytellers used to be the pinnacle of entertainment, I see quotes from famous actors calling out that the world needs us. Needs us? As we race into our metaphorical phone booths to switch into our superhuman storytelling costumes, will we really be perceived and valued for our trade or will it be seen as lesser than other forms of entertainment? It would be like Superman waking up to a world where a thousand someones eating fire bumped him out of respected recognition.

Why should storytelling be valued?
We learn from stories. We gain perspective. We are distracted, we laugh and cry. We release what we've carried and we are reminded of the human connection. A good storyteller sets themselves aside and offers the audience the stories they want and need. It is about the audience. Every politician, lawyer and successful con artist has to be an excellent storyteller although none of those folks want it on their resume.

Allow amazing storytellers to inspire you. Inspire them, appreciate the profound chance and take each beautiful opportunity you are given to savor the way their words inspire you. Appreciate how hard, in a sea of social media, it was for chance to bring you to a place where you could have the opportunity to listen.

How often do we listen anymore? Is that timer running in your head even now, telling you to rush back to a candy colored game or gossip or shopping? Slow down! If you are so discontent that you have to constantly shift your attention, why? Stop avoiding what needs changing or addressing. Settle down for a story, take what you need, make changes to reduce that weird agitation that seems to be affecting everyone lately.

Let a storyteller help you change the world.

Stop buying things you do not need. Stop justifying them. Focus on your health and the health of your relationships. Stop blaming. Take responsibility. Set goals. Relearn self control and impulse control. Be the Captain of your ship rather than a hapless stow away jostled by the waves of social mores and norms, legislation, and advertisements. Turn off your data. Turn off your phone. Go outside. Talk with real people. Live your real life, and if you do not like it- set goals and change it. Possessions and pretending do not make the world a better place. A starving child is not saved with a doll and a princess dress, but with nourishment.

I was asked what my ideal community would be like and to give it serious thought

Start caring for each other, instead of attacking each regardless of the size of the difference. Compromise. If you choose not to get along because of severe conflict you have the right to choose not to interact or have dealings but must accept that mutual connections may still interact. Resposibile living, growing animals and crops, self sustainability: learning and teaching the basics. Choosing to stop and not include disposable, wasteful options like bottled water and plastic toys. Solar, wind power, and human power.

We as a people lost our voice after the sixties. We choose to believe we are stuck. We are not. I hear and read people saying change starts within. Be free in your head and you will be free. It's misleading. It starts there. It shifts to responsible, informed decision making regarding your immediate environment and choices. It expands into changing and reforming the laws and government. Do not accept corruption. Choose to take the power from those who misuse it. Learn to be adults again and without an immature rant, accept that other people are different and have different views and beliefs. Respect them as you want your own respected, and do not assume they are flawed or wrong any more than you would want your questioned.

Storytelling. Learn why it has been held in high esteem throughout history. Read or listen to a storyteller. It could easily be the most dangerous thing you do. Remember, Charles Manson and Leonard Peltier are both still in jail not because of what they did but because of the stories and the influence the would have on others if freed. The power of words in a master's hands goes beyond that of a gun.

Have an excellent birthday Tawasi. May the world change, May people make the individual choices to shift the sands out from under the unstable, unhealthy structt we have now. May each person be strong enough to listen to their spirit and step back out into impacting the world for positive change.

As a storyteller, I encourage you to remember that you are the protagonist in your story. You, not a cartoon character, but you. You are incredible, you hide behind apps and you bear the burden of feeling trapped and attacked by judgemental peers in a social climate engineered to divide you and rewarding you for judging, rewarding you for impotence and acceptance. Find your personal strengths and start changing your worlds. Become immune to advertisers and labels. Accept that life is hard, dangerous and fleeting. Appreciate it.