News & Views

Opinion / Is Life Any Good Without Fiction?

by Silvia Antunes

We just can't get enough of good stories. Andy Samberg's opening act for the Emmys depicted a guy who felt pressured to watch hundreds of TV shows so he wouldn’t feel isolated for not keeping up with The Prison Wives Club, I mean, with the cultural phenomenon. We identify with those stories, we want to get lost in them, forget the world for a few minutes, or hours, or days... depending on binge addiction levels. And there are so many of them available now that we have a hard time choosing which will be worth our precious time. We've never had so much fiction offered across so many platforms.

The narrative we chose to tell the world and ourselves, and the image we portray, are the stories that we create every day. As the Hollywood/Bollywood director Shekhar Kapur poetically points out: In this universe, and in this existence, where we live in this duality of whether we exist or not, and who are we, the stories we tell ourselves are the stories that define the potentialities of our existence.

How has the abundance of tools that we can use to tell our own stories impacted our creative editing? And how do we keep our stories interesting and relevant in the mass of real life, everyday stories?

Salvador Dali starts his autobiography with an anecdote where he admits to not being sure if the story is true or not, even though he has been telling it his entire life. Every time we retell an old story, it becomes something else. In this way, memory could be considered a creative exercise. But then again, who would be interested in a fact-checked, proof-read life? I'm sure that everybody thinks that some people are better on paper – or screens. The challenge of online dating proves this point.

When we’re watching a reality show, we know that the appeal is the story as much as the ‘reality’. Does anybody believe that the Kardashian-Jenner clan actually lives like that? That doesn't stop the family from converting millions of people into devoted fans, Kylie Jenner's app launched recently and hit #1 at the App Store with 600,000 signs ups on its first day.

AT&T used the power of fiction and editing efficiently with its Youtube series Summer Break. The brand showcased what young people are expertly doing: the real characters interact with each other and with fans through their personal profiles on social media like they would, frequently and naturally, even if they weren't on camera. As Billy Parks, co-creator of Summer Break, said: ‘18 year olds have become masters at crafting and sharing their own realities. We’ve learned that we can shape-shift the storyline in real-time to respond to audience feedback. It's a completely new form of storytelling. The audience becomes another editor.’

As technology evolves we will have to adapt our fiction-making powers, and discover new ways of making our own lives worth sharing and documenting. This challenge gets increasingly difficult when we consider Beme – a video sharing site where you don't have any control on what's being posted – or YouNow – where you can broadcast your life 24/7. Just channel your best creative self and Google how to avoid writer's block. Hopefully you'll pick some fans along the way.