Have you felt it? I’m thinking you have, but perhaps you haven’t really identified it, or put it into context with regards to what you youself is working on. The feeling of being part of something bigger than yourself – a community, a group, a niche, a gathering, a tribe… A ”we” instead of necessarily a ”me”.
We’ve heard quite a lot about how we live in a narcissistic world where selfies and self-fullfilment are flooding every content outlet, how ”I” and ”me” are the two words most meaningful to each and everyone of us, and how we now have more routes to fulfilling this need of ”celebrating the self” than ever before. This is all still true, but even thought the fiercely individual strand is strong within most of us, the lure of the community is becoming stronger and stronger.
Venturebeat had a good article a couple of days ago on the matter, labeling it ”group-storytelling” and discussing how brands and companies should approach this new-ish turn in the behaviour of the audience-customer-user. It’s a good read, with some very valid points – chief being that people will move towards using social media to link their narratives to other narratives, creating a fuller story and a richer context around any given story; the ”we” replacing the ”me”.
One of the points the article discusses is the increased urge to collaborate. People want to participate, be connected and feel an authentic connection. New calls-to-action facilitate mass collaboration, which I feel is a necessary evolvement. What the article doesn’t stress though, and what I feel is even more necessary, is the need to validate and celebrate the people taking part, interacting, engaging. Even if we engage in a ”we”, the ”me” still needs to feel appreciated, unique and worthy of attention. These mechanics need to be integrated into every project from the beginning as well, so they feel like a natural extension of the rest of the narrative, and not like a clumsy late addition.
Another point talks about the dynamics of group-storytelling, stating that ”the best stories have no beginning or end and instead continue to get better over time”. While I don’t necessary agree 100% – there are stories that are simply perfect while contained in a certain form, quickly risking dilution if expanded upon – there is a lot of truth to this point. We all need to stop thinking of the newspaper ad or the 30 second spot on TV or the banner or the blog post or the Facebook update or just about anything as a separate entity. It’s a chapter in a book, precluded by other chapters and followed by even more. It’s a great big choose-your-own-adventure spanning over many different media. It’s a mirror of real life, but contained in a story world, framed by a narrative and explorable by anyone.
Let’s celebrate the ”we”, without losing the ”me”. Together they will be unstoppable.