Every day, for thousands of years, people everywhere have laughed. They’ve laughed for endless amounts of reasons – at everyday ironies, at idiosyncrasies, at stupidity, at each others’ sense of humor, at others’ misfortune, and even at their own misfortunes.
As I’ve expressed before, I place a lot of value in the ability to laugh.
But if we never share those experiences, if we never let others in on the joke, that value ends as soon as the sound of the laughter stops. The moment is over, gone forever. And to me, that’s a tragedy.
What a funny thing, the ability of humans (and some would argue, dogs and a few other animals) to smile – to display the happiness we feel on the inside so plainly on the outside, right on our faces. Smiles were obviously meant to be shared. To me, this is what lays at the heart of the human tradition of storytelling. When we’ve experienced something that’s brought us joy, the urge to share it is so strong, it’s arguably innate.
At times, perhaps the only appropriate audience to share a laugh with is extremely limited – perhaps only a spouse, or a best friend, or a mom or a dad or grandparent, or some other such close family member. Sometimes, though, there’s no limit to the amount of (open-minded, good-humored) people who could share in a laugh. I’ve come to really appreciate the amazing (albeit intimidating) world of electronics in the unending capabilities it offers for those wishing to share. Through social websites, such as Facebook or Google+, you can select which specific people, or groups of people, you wish to share each specific thought with, or you can choose to make everything you do (or just some things) completely open to the general public. Through personal blog sites like WordPress, virtually anyone can set up their very own venue through which they can share anything at all they choose.
But of course, words alone can be boring, no matter how funny, and to answer this problem, tools such as Flickr, GIMP, SoundCloud, and YouTube have come to our rescue, allowing us virtually no end to the kind of media we can use to help us tell our stories. And then, to encourage the sharing of these ideas without fear of a lawsuit, we even have Creative Commons around to help bridge the gap between lawyers, creators, bloggers, and companies, helping us all to easily and clearly communicate what is allowed and not allowed to be done with our work.
Over the years, people have passed down traditions of oral storytelling, stories by picture, stories with a written narrative and accompanying illustrations, and tons of stories told through pieces of art in the form of paintings, statues, clay and other molds, to name only a few. Digital storytelling is just the newest page in the book of the story of…well, storytelling. It has made the communication of these stories much faster, and opened up tons of doors for new venues to tell the stories we have to tell.
Sometimes, our stories take on a darker tone. Sometimes, our stories scare us, break our hearts, and make us cry. But from what I’ve found, even when our stories share a negative experience, the point is then almost always a warning – this path will bring you no joy – stay away from this path. Even if it’s in the form of a warning, to try to urge others away from the same kind of pain we’ve experienced, or to try to encourage others experiencing our same pain that there is light at the end of the tunnel, think of what that means. As long as stories have been shared, sharing joy has always been at the heart of them, whether directly, or by teaching us to avoid anything that would get in the way of it.
At least IMHO.