Writing Prompt: Social media memiors & autobiographies

Contributed by Michael Charboneau

“Each of us must possess a created version of the past,” writes Patricia Hampl in I Could Tell You A Story: Sojourns in the Land of Memory, a book that explores memoir writing and the forces that bring people to examine, and ultimately write down, their lives. In my memoir class, we have been discussing the various ways in which autobiography is created, both in the mind of the author and in his or her relationship with the outside world. Although there are many theories on the nature of autobiography, our discussions have made one thing very clear: We live in an autobiographical age. More specifically, we live in an age in which we constantly broadcast ourselves via a multitude of social media platforms.

Social Media Storytelling

Write an autobiographical story incorporating your last five tweets.

In pictures, text, and video (and any combination of those), we tell the stories of our lives. We log onto Facebook and delight in our collection of photos, each one recording a special moment, each one liked and commented on by our friends, each one taking its place in our public timeline. Twitter, with its catalog of our thoughts and reactions, our daily joys and worries, is especially suited for autobiography. Never before have so many people been able to share their lives with each other, and never before has doing so been such a widespread obsession: according to the Pew Research Internet Project, 74% of online adults use social media. Memoirists of old might look over journals to pen their stories, but the autobiographers of today and tomorrow will spend their twilight years poring over old tweets and saved snapchats.

Let’s take a look at how we present our lives online. Write an autobiographical story incorporating your last five tweets. Not on Twitter? Use the last five posts on your preferred social media platform or jot down a few in 140 characters or less — check out @NYWriters for inspiration!

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