The Role of Transmedia Storytelling for Affecting Change Toward Equality and Human Rights

Blog Action Day 2013 Human Rights

Transmedia Storytelling gives us, as authors and content creators, not only the ability to create engaging entertainment properties that cross platforms and media, engaging audiences and creating, in best case scenarios, participatory storytelling, but also can be used as a methodology employed for good – specifically for the fight for human rights.

In order to affect change we must first change how people think – encourage everyone to become a storyteller. Since the dawn of time, humans have told stories in order to convey ideas and sway beliefs. However, we no longer rely on proximity and the campfire as a forum for storytelling. We have many media and platforms to tell stories – from short forms like Twitter and Facebook posts and graphic memes, but video, which can be released on YouTube, Vimeo, and other social sharing sites. Nearly anyone can create a blog or Tumblr page with access to technology and internet. This empowers everyone to become a voice of change. We can learn from the stories coming out of what we in the USA refer to as “Third World Countries.” It is not one voice but the voices of many that create social change – that help people worldwide understand the injustices in distant places as well as those right under our own noses in our own home towns and regions.

October 16th 2013 is Blog Action Day, with this year’s theme being “Human Rights.” But I ask, what are the basic rights all humans should be afforded and where are the inhabitants of a region lack these rights. In my humble opinion, human rights should include but not be limited to the right to clean water and adequate food, medical care, housing, clothing, education and literacy, and freedom from fear of violence. Living in Los Angeles, I seldom feel that I am lacking in any of these rights, so why are there so many people throughout the world that lack these basic human needs to which they are entitled?

A while back, I saw an excellent video that pointed out the fickle and trivial things we complain about in wealthy nations by showing people in developing nations complaining about the very things I hear people complain about on a daily basis here in Los Angeles and around the USA and Europe. The ironic nature of the piece was effective because its absurdity pointed out so well our own absurdity, greed and shortness of sight in a particularly clever way. I immediately shared it on my Facebook page, Tweeted about it, and posted it to several other social media sites, sharing it with others, who in turn, shared it with their own friends, families and collegues. This is the very way a message urging a change in thinking begins its journey into virality.

So, what’s the video? I will share it here because it made me wonder so emotively why we fail to see our own luck, and to take on humanitarian efforts from the safety of our creature comfort laden houses:


This video came out at least a year ago, and it has had over 2 million views worldwide. Many other videos today are going viral, as people look at what human rights need to be addressed worldwide. I urge you to check them out on YouTube, Vimeo, and other video sites. Also read blogs, follow the Twitter page @blogactionday and the hashtags #HumanRights #BAD13 #Blogactionday and keep your eyes peeled for posts on Facebook and Reddit and other social sites where you can see what others have written about.

Some will speak generally about facts and statistics, and information is powerful, but it is only through storytelling that we can truly bring about understanding and encourage change through action. Social awareness is coming about in many places, and our stories are being told worldwide through the many forms of social media. But always remember, participation – in this case, social action – is the only true way to affect change, regardless of the issue or issues you choose to undertake.

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