How do most of us tell stories about our lives? Preserve a piece of our history for posterity? Many a times it’s through retellings. A favourite dress worn on numerous occasions, a food joint we visit, a scent we prefer – books we read, music we listen to, friends we make and groups we associate with, jobs we choose – all these choices in life tell a story about who we are and what we stand for.
However, most of these choices or ‘tellings’ aren’t consciously essayed. More often than not, they are non-verbal, non-structured cues that we carry with ourselves, without any obvious intent or desire to showcase what our stories are about.
Perhaps in the decades past, this would have been especially true. Choice was limited, whether through the offices of gender, access, technology, education, career preference, or tradition. Stories would then have been muted or retold only by those in power or in a position of influence.
Of course, the stories which go untold or are muted in the timeline of history are to be considered pieces of a larger narrative; a narrative which looks incomplete, but goes on to unravel entire plots, character traits and semantics of poesies with its missing pieces.
What does the screenager do to tell a tale? On the virtual canvas, stories are told, retold, deleted, and hyper-texted in endless posts of continuums. We indicate preferences through clicks. We indicate stronger preferences through shared links. And we indicate our Likes and Loves through posts and pokes. We are given the power to wipe off some stories and update our autobiographies every minute.
There is no shame in showcasing the minutiae of your life, after all, the screen is the only scribe that will hold your record for all ages.
Imagine what would happen if tomorrow, you no longer had the stage to sing your song and tell a tall tale or two? Who will remember you once your online ‘links’ are cut off? Imagine if your clicks and posts were restricted and you were denied access, or couldn’t share your story with your fellow cyber-storytellers. What stories would you save from your favourite pages? What are the pieces of the online puzzle you would hoard as a remnant of what you stand for (stood for) and represent(ed)?
These bundles of retellings are so slippery. While the silk and wool from my growing up years get moth eaten, I hope after I am no longer physically here to tell my tale, the screen stays loyal and keeps my stories intact on the spidery web.
– Nilofar Ansher