Storytelling Isn’t Just a Buzzword

I believe words are deemed buzzwords because they represent something that a lot of people resonate with. Therefore, by nature, “buzzwords” will always appear to some as overused. That being said, I don’t think the term “storytelling” or “storyteller” is overused. I think the term “storytelling” is ambiguous enough that many different professions, art forms, activities, etc. can be considered “storytelling.”

It bothered me that Stefan Sagmeister publically insulted the roller coaster designer for claiming himself to be a “storyteller” in his short video, “You Are Not a Storyteller.” In the eyes of the roller coaster designer, he is a “storyteller.” He is designing sets, themes, climaxes, and anti-climaxes to illustrate a vision and evoke emotions from his audience. How is that not “storytelling?” I understand being a roller coaster designer is different than being a journalist, filmmaker, social media director, or any other profession more traditionally associated with the term; but I also think it is narrow minded to say the roller coaster designer’s work is incapable of telling a story.

Furthermore, I don’t understand why the term is controversial. “Storytelling” is not a new concept, nor is it a concept that will fade out and never be used again once it’s had its 15 minutes of fame, like buzzwords do. “Storytelling” is all about making a deep impact on consumers and making them feel emotionally tied to a product or cause. This has always been a motive of advertising and public relations. Now there is just a widely used name for it. For these reasons, I agree with the article, “Once Upon a Time: Is Storytelling Just Another Buzzword?” that “storytelling” will surpass being just a buzzword.

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