“The best way to tell stories in this world, where so much information is coming at us, actually is video. It conveys so much more information in a much quicker period. So actually the trend helps us to digest much more information.”

— Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa

 

“Helps us digest more information.”

I’m not sure what makes me queasier about that line – the image of people gorging on so much information they need a digestive aid like digital Metamucil, or the fact that a top Facebook exec seems to be crowing over the end of the written word.

(Answer: the first one. Bodily functions always win in the queasy-making game.)

But there are a couple other reasons why the second thing doesn’t yank my chain much. First off, I really shouldn’t be surprised that a company that has invested heavily in video should want to dance on the grave — am hearing the line from Monty Python’s Holy Grail, “I’m not dead yet!”– of something that is getting in its way.

Secondly, I know that old-fashioned storytelling will never go away. You know, where a writer takes you on a magic carpet ride of beautiful language and compelling characters and lets you leave the world of NOW NOW NOW for a few minutes, at least.

Yes, I love the new wave of digital/mobile storytelling — videos on Vine, photos on Instagram, 140-character stories on Twitter. But storytelling is a big tent, and in a quiet corner of the three-ring circus you’ll always find people spellbound by something as lovely as this:

A breeze was coming off the ocean. Patty made her way toward the Boardwalk. Within two feet of the door, she fainted in the heat. Some jerk in a Mets cap started counting her out, but better men helped her to a bench by a fan. She was fine.

The sun was on its slow way down, but people were still coming past the echoing clang of the batting cage and the wind and the waves.

Summertime: It was too late to stop now. The long hot slide had begun, but summer at Ruby’s is no picture postcard. Two days after the parade, the doors framed a sky the color of mock turtle soup.

A pattering rain fell on the beach. Some days a beer brings a taste of being 15 years old; some days it just tastes like another beer.

 

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