As a writer and former anthropology student, I’ve always been fascinated by the art and power of storytelling that pervades humanity. The practice of creating and sharing stories is found throughout all cultures, regions, and time. Stories shape who we are and what we become. They help us make sense of our world. And perhaps most importantly, stories allow us to learn from and connect with each other in deep and meaningful ways.
Of course, how we tell stories is constantly evolving. With the rapidly growing fields of technology and digital media, the age-old tradition of storytelling continues to permeate our culture in completely new ways. Social media, video, blogs, email, and all forms of digital content are now a huge part of our lives, both as consumers and creators of content.
For some of us this is an exhilarating thought, but for plenty of others it’s intimidating or downright scary. Growing up in the 90s and early 2000s, I can recall how many writers and traditional media professionals lamented the “dawn of the internet age” at first. Still today I hear cynics of all generations and professions making sweeping claims like, “the art of writing is dead” or “people don’t read anymore” or “millennials are too apathetic and disconnected from real life.”
And to be fair, there is plenty of evidence to back up this view. But the more optimistic among us recognize that the world of digital and social media is not inherently bad, or somehow signaling the end of art or civil society. Instead, I believe this is actually an exciting time and place in human history, where new tools and methods of communication (when used for good) allow us to reach greater heights of creativity, connection, and understanding.
In fact, several years ago when I was living in Phoenix, I heard a leading digital marketer in the region, Park Howell, speak about how storytelling is actually making a resurgence. Howell said this was because “the social animal in all humans craves context, depth, and content in our interaction” and because “story—no matter how it’s told—is essential to bringing meaning and expression to life.”
I couldn’t agree more.
I’m actually more optimistic about the future of writing and communications now than I ever was growing up. More and more companies are starting to recognize the need to integrate authentic storytelling into their marketing communications programs, and content marketing is a fast-growing field in its own right. So while there are huge advances in AI that will make many jobs obsolete soon, I truly believe that great writers and communicators will always be in demand.
After all, at the end of the day—whether your goal is to sell products, raise money, or gain supporters—we’re all still just a bunch of humans trying to communicate with other humans. And there’s still no better way to do that than through storytelling.