Storytelling in a Digital Age

Storytelling is a tradition that’s been on going since humans could speak and communicate with one another. It’s not a surprise then, that as our technology developed, so did our forms of storytelling. There were oral poems like The Odyssey and Beowulf. Then the written word with the first written story, “The Epic of Gilgamesh.” Then the radio, the television, the motion picture. And now, the Internet. My question? How has digital media affected the way we tell stories via social media and apps? I looked at three accounts on Instagram and two on Facebook to figure that out.

Accounts investigated

Instagram: StoriesWTF, Stories.Below and ScaryStoriesandPosts

Facebook: Facebook Stories and Humans of New York

Data collected

Stories are nothing without an audience, so I tracked each accounts’ likes, comments and shares (if applicable) between September 18th and December 3rd, 2014. Each graph contains four to five posts in chronological order and how their followers or audience reacted.


Screen shot 2014-12-08 at 3.11.12 PM

  • Switched basis of posts three weeks into my analysis from stories to memes and internet trends.


Screen shot 2014-12-08 at 3.10.41 PM

  • Posts became infrequent, even though the account gained 2,000 followers from 9/18 to 12/3

Scary Stories and Posts

Screen shot 2014-12-08 at 3.12.31 PM

Facebook Stories

Screen shot 2014-12-08 at 3.12.05 PM

Humans of New York

Screen shot 2014-12-08 at 3.11.34 PM


Each account had their own specific set of data that reflected their followers.

Likes vs. Comments

It doesn’t matter if a story is on Instagram or Facebook or any other form of social media – likes are always going to be higher than comments. This is one (in my opinion) negative formation of our use of social media. It gives off an impression of laziness; that we can’t continue conversations but will gladly “like” something to support it.

Sharing vs. Telling Screen shot 2014-12-09 at 10.37.23 AM Screen shot 2014-12-08 at 3.52.24 PMWhat was most significant in all posts on both platforms were the way commenters tagged other users, showing them that they should see that post or read it or know about it. This, in itself, is a new form of storytelling because it’s spreading the stories without restating them themselves. This falls under email forwards, “sharing” on Facebook, sharing links, hyperlinking in posts, etc.


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