On the flow of information

I’ve been obsessed with how information moves, like a river, from tongue to mouth to mind to memory for as long as I can remember.

Even as a young child, I flocked to nighttime stories of Jack & Annie’s adventures in their awesome treehouse and around the world (thanks Mom!). My earliest memories are mentally in faraway places, physically in easy-to-reach places, reading and absorbing stories.

So when I entered journalism school three years ago this fall, I guess it didn’t come as a huge surprise to my peers. In high school, I was the videographer for the men’s soccer team and the co-editor-in-chief of the school newspaper.

Of course, it made sense. I’ve always been a storyteller.

But I struggled early on in my college career with the label and the life of a journalist; three semesters were enough to satiate the caffeine-addicted, deadline-obsessing sorry self I was turning into.

I found myself then in the midst of the story of my life — caught between having the skills and the tools to narrate it, yet frustrated by my lack of personal involvement. I wanted to tell the story, and be a part of the story, too.

I still do.

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Believe me when I say I’m thinking it all through.

I’ve been thinking about where my interests, passions, and career fall apart together since I figured out being a by-the-book journalist wasn’t for me.

In the doldrums of winter, I took the mental to the physical and created a card-constructed web of where I see information coming and going in this society we live in.

Lobbyists. Education system. Marginalized ‘Lay Persons’. 

I brainstormed as many outlets and avenues as I could think of. Then I tried to insert myself into the picture because ultimately that’s the goal of this collegiate chapter — to figure out where on this wheel of information I (must?) turn.

I see myself here, one day, as a non-governmental organization digital strategist, helping to tell their story in their quest to safeguard our environment. I see myself there, another day, as a civil society climate change politics kind of personnel, helping to shape our collective story in public policy. I see myself, yet again, as an independent author and digital artist, telling the story — my story — of the Earth, for whatever that may be worth.

Maybe I’ll live to see none of those days — maybe I’ll live to see them all.

What work lasts, in an age of digitized ‘posts’ and fleeting Instagrammable moments? What part of the wheel matters most to the person configuring and (I guess importantly) funding the wheel? What needs to be fixed today — and what part of the wheel can wait to be fixed tomorrow (or 10 years from now)?

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Right now, I’m still sliding in between the spokes on this story-wheel-go-round.

The more I resist the catch-all ‘storyteller’ title with my work — a little embarrassed to be synonymous with fictional Hobbit-land, Hollywood fluff — I realize just how fundamental stories are in our waking (and dreaming) lives.

We tell stories to our families at the end of the working day. We watch stories on YouTube and Netflix, and everywhere in between. We listen to stories in songs and in soundtracks, we read stories on tablets and in paperbacks.

Our religions are all based on stories. Our entertainment escapes are all story-tale set-ups. Our classics and our human history — stories we keep telling and sharing over generations of change, to keep something the same.

So I’m wondering now: Can my life’s creation become a story worth sharing?