Have been thinking about storytelling lately. The whole idea of stories and how we bring them to the world. A lot of it has to do with me studying creative writing, I guess, but it also struck me as I share more in Stories on Instagram while we are settling in here in Lusaka. Struck me, as in what stories am I telling through the photos and small videos I put out, and which stories people interact with and which they don’t. I now saw that WordPress has also put a story function to the blog page and I guess it is because these small snippets from peoples lives work. Works as in people make money from it and get more views and followers. And in all this there is always stories that are not told. Stories that are not getting the same kind of views and interactions.
I have been comparing it to books. Everybody wants to read crime novels. They sell. People buy and read and listen. The authors and publishers make money. Feelgood books also sell. The smaller more narrow stories doesn’t sell as much. And I feel that these social media stories are working the same way. It’s sad because it’s mostly not the blockbuster movies or top ten books that has the most diverse and different stories and point of views. The algorithms and the capitalist society works against the different and not as profitable stories.
So, how does this effect me? I think that these kind of thoughts has made me not to create. Not to write, not to share. Because it is not going to mean anything since it will not make me money (“inner very hostile in-learnt patterns from society talking”). But recently there has been a lot of signs, posts in my Instagram feed, people saying, writing and sharing stories that make me feel good about sharing my art even if it doesn’t become “big” and, or, successful. The stories and the art I have to share, is already important because we are all important and all our stories deserve to be told. The rest is just bullshit rules and algorithms talking and they don’t matter in the end. In the end it’s our stories and that they are told that matters.
Above: Little snippets from our life in Zambia
So what stories are we telling? What stories do we want to tell, and which stories do we want to read?
Stories I like to read right now is often not the mainstream ones. I like to read about life in Africa, since forever, but extra now since living on the continent again. For example I like to follow Jolitropisme on Instagram and read her blog (what I understand, its in French). I am looking forward to read the books by the 2021 Nobel Prize winner in literature Abdulrazak Gurnah, and I am currently re-reading one of my favorite books ever, Stay with me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀. I recommend it to everybody that wants reading tips. It has everything! Read here a short take on it from the first time I read it in 2018.
I do believe that the the stories we read can have an effect on how we feel, think and act. That the stories we surround ourselves with shapes us. So I try to read diverse, watch diverse and follow people on for example IG that is not part of the “usual” stories I am fed. In the beginning it can feel like its difficult to know where to look but mostly it is just to start and then the algorithms will actually work in your favor. Go try it. Can not recommend it enough!