The New Neighbourhood

Remember the old days when you had to be polite and listen to what the adults were telling you about walking in the snow and the treacherous lives they led as children? One day, however, we realize as we’re telling our own kids about the treacherous lives we lived as children, that we’re doing that same thing and yet it doesn’t seem silly to us. It seems important. And it is.

Here’s why: Stortelling is what society is made from. Because stories, be they religious based, or historical, or simply for entertainment, organize the tribe. Oh, so you’re daddy knew his daddy who first settled in the prairies straight off a boat from Ireland? Well, you have something in common then. Let me pour you a drink. Take a load off. Sit down and talk a while.

I was born at the end of eleven children and my favourite part of being in a crowd of brothers was hearing the harrowing tales of survival through the years that young family members had to go through. A brick dropped on someone’s head–sheer hilarity. Someone else’s skull torn open on a back alley drag race–thrilling! A fire that broke out, a water fight, a near-death bomb explosion, an early morning brawl–what happened next I would ask over and over, barely able to contain my excitement.

My world was made of stories and I sat at the fringe of the tribe and soaked up every word of it.

Everyone has a story to tell. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you came from. The greatest thing for me to see is how this is so accepted in our media now–telling stories is not only fueling a revolution in communication, it is fueling startups across the globe and as an entrepreneur, I think that is pretty exciting.

Maybe that is why there are so many people talking about personal brands and how you have to have one. A personal brand is really just telling your story, taking your own audience share for your words, your voice,  mapping out your place in a digital society–to be heard by the tribe. In Seth Godin’s blog post today, he writes: “People don’t coalesce into active and committed tribes around the status quo.” Perhaps the viral nature of social media springs from the unexpected story, from the unexpected place, a mother in the middle of the night, blogging about her sleepless baby, not a corporate twitter account updated by someone who is happy to micro-blog because it just means less to do. The status quo has shifted forever. The individual voice is king. And conversation between individuals is what is driving it all.

Once upon a time, my mom used to talk to our neighbour, garden tool in hand, one glove off, holding a smoke and yak on about the day. The same thing is happening on twitter, you see these insights just like a neighbour’s fence chit chat. It is kind of old-fashioned; it is kind of how community was forty years ago.

Maybe I don’t need to know what everyone is eating for breakfast, but I like it when I read on twitter that a friend is buttering a croissant and sitting down to read the New York Times start to finish on a Sunday morning. I nod, and smile and think good for you! And my facebook community on a Sunday morning? Out with the kids, washing cars, hiking in the nearby mountains, doing chores.

Kind of reminds me of standing around with my parents after some lame school function, bored, waiting for the adults to stop talking but not really minding because it just felt good, like we were all part of something–our nieghbourhood.

The new neighbourhood (yes, Canadians spell that word with an additional vowel) is online with real people offline.

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Filed under Writing for Social Media

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