Stefan Sagmeister takes a very extreme stance in this video, but sometimes extreme stances help spur the conversation.
We all tell stories in our lives. We tell stories to our kids, to our friends and our work colleagues. Every startup entrepreneur who pitches her company (hundreds of times), learns how to tell a compelling story in a pithy way. Should we all call ourselves storytellers?
We all make food to feed ourselves. Whether it’s toast, oatmeal, scrambled eggs, pasta or a more gourmet meal. Should we all call ourselves chefs?
We all doodle and make presentations. Should we all call ourselves creators or artists?
We all hum. Should we all call ourselves musicians?
We all tinker on our computers, fix annoyances and set up our preferences on programs we use. Should we all call ourselves technologists?
Maybe you laughed at the last one, but it’s a valid comparison. Just like it would be silly for people who uses technology as part of their jobs to call themselves technologists, it is silly for people who uses storytelling as part of their jobs to call themselves storytellers.
They are both tools you use to do your job. They are both tools in life, at this point. Everyone tells stories, everyone uses technology.
One of the points in Sagmeister’s video I do agree with is that most novelists or filmmakers don’t actually call themselves storytellers. They call themselves writers/novelists and filmmakers.
The word storyteller has been consumed by pop-culture, by tech culture. While I definitely do not feel as strongly about this as Sagmeister seems to (to each his own, who really cares, etc.), I do think words have value and when they are misused, they lose value. As he says “…it sort of took on the mantle of bullshit.” Yep.