Surreptitiously slipping in before this weekend’s release of Issue 10, Piers Pereira gives us his intro piece to Storytelling Is Not a Meme, hitting us with his take on modern writing.
R u a ryta?
WE LIVE IN INTERESTING TIMES. The past twenty years have shown an explosion of electronic technology and communication, but even your blind, senile grandma knows that.
Personal letters are dying in all areas apart from clueless romantic hipsters sending love notes written on reclaimed organic paper doused with ink from only the most unique fountain pens (designed by some lost talent dwelling deep in Dalston). Communication is short and abbreviated; “newspeak” is an unfortunate reality. Many schools around the world have given up teaching “joined-up” writing, because what’s the point? The millennials are bashing their messages out on their touch-screen plastic super computers.
The majority of writing is now just for long distance and brief conversation. In a thousand years from now, when historians look back at the evidence we have left behind of our civilisation, there will be no grand message from Ozymandias, just “#endofwrld #meteorsukdik”
So does this mean that young writers are disappearing? Are short stories becoming a thing of the past? Are we, as a civilisation, losing the art of storytelling to the need for light-speed communication?
Well, no. Obviously, the art of storytelling has not slowed down; the hundreds of films, television shows and books published each year show the demand for storytelling will always remain.
In fact, the Internet has spoiled us; stories flow by the thousands every day. They flow so quickly that many disappear in the electric ether. Humorous YouTube comments, short-stories on message boards, reddit threads, 4chan green text posts and many more contain wonderful short-stories and poems. If they are lucky, good, and catchy, they may get the “honour” of becoming a meme, a recurring joke run into the ground after a few short months by constant use and misuse, but a good many are lost in the ocean of the interwebs.
As the world has become a larger place, it has too become a smaller place
Writing is alive and well on the internet, but while many examples of fine writing can be found, it is also a haven for poor writers whose flaws and inaccuracies are repeated in circle jerk forums run by aggressively bad writers too egotistical and insecure to listen to any criticism. Just browse tumblr for an hour or two and view a few social justice forums for some deliciously terrifying examples.
The poor writers are also the most likely to push shocking and horrifying work which will be applauded by other bullshit “artists” as a quick fix to fulfill the darkest and saddest regions of their imagination and to act as a reassurance that others feel the same way they do about Hermione and Hagrid.
As the world has become a larger place, it has too become a smaller place, and the ideas that once rattled round in your head, which you thought were unique to your ego-swollen head, have now been shown to be common across the world. That epic story you thought up about a cross-country road trip with Hitler and Gandhi was already written by some Neo-Nazi pacifist in Texas.
The anonymity of the Internet has also allowed for plagiarism in its purest form, not just parts of stories stolen, but also whole identities stolen, life stories taken and little in the way of legal protection.
So why do people write on the net? Is there any reward apart from Internet points?
Like the recent slurry of teen popstars “discovered” on YouTube, a few writers are being plucked from message boards and social networking platforms and are seeing their stories published in a physical format.
Over the next few articles I will be looking at the ins and outs of modern Internet storytelling, the rise of the meme, the art of trolling and the history of the comment board.