There are countless ways to tell stories.
Are some methods better than others? It’s a question with which I’ve been grappling lately.
Certain forms of storytelling are undoubtably more appropriate and effective than others in particular contexts, but ultimately, I don’t believe there is one superior method of communication.
I tell stories for a living. As a newspaper reporter, I type them up and share them in print and on the web. Readers can select those that interest them and devour them at their leisure to keep informed.
At home, I’m more of a talker.
If I’m lucky enough to see the people with whom I’m closest on a given day, I’ll tell them my stories in person, but often, I need to use other tools to keep in touch.
I’ll gab with my mom on the phone and speak over Skype with my college roommate.
I like to talk, but conversations take time. Technology makes it easy to shoot anecdotes to friends via email, social media and text message.
Rarely, I send friends snail mail. Birthdays inspire greeting cards, and Christmas prompts letters to those with whom I’m losing touch.
With so many communication options, it’s easy to opt for convenience, but successful storytelling requires thought, attention to which avenue is the most appropriate and effective in a given situation.
Stories that change lives should be delivered in person.
Social graces forbid men and women from breaking up with their significant other in a text message.
When possible, police deliver news that a loved one has died in person.
Couples often think of creative ways to announce engagements and pregnancies to close friends and family. Relatives sometimes feel snubbed if the milestone is shared with the entire world in a Facebook status before they hear about it in person.
Bosses call employees into their office before they’re promoted or fired.
Many claim that there is no substitute for face-to-face interaction. In these instances, I think that’s true.
But, swapping stories in person is not always the best way to exchange information.
In my office, it isn’t practical. It would make no sense for me to rap on the superintendent’s door every time I need a comment. It makes the most sense to make a phone call or send an email if my deadline is imminent.
Text messages are a great way to pass along a quick quip before it’s forgotten.
And Facebook is an invaluable tool for telling stories to those who want to listen, but aren’t in one’s closest circles. An added bonus: Facebook stories can be illustrated with pictures.
If there are countless ways to tell stories, there are innumerable ways to consume them.
I have always been a voracious reader, but, ironically, I’ve been reading less and less since I started college.
In 2014, I’ve watched nearly six seasons of “The Office” in the time it’s taken me to read two novels: “Gone Girl” and “Anne of Green Gables.”
People I’m close to judge others for choosing time in front of a screen over a good book, but does it matter whether people read the “Harry Potter” series or watch the movies? Not as long as they enjoy the story. (I would argue that the books are better, but not because they’re books.)
Storytelling ability varies from person to person. There are certainly stories that should be conveyed in a certain time and place. But the more stories we tell and consume through various mediums, the richer our world.
Olivia Koester can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org