RhetoricLee Speaking

Anecdon’ts and Instafails: Social Media Marketing Cliche

May 26, 2020

An anecdote is not a story. An anecdote is a quick, “this thing happened to me.” An anecdote is a one-dimensional series of facts that people call a story when they don’t know better. An anecdote may have had a point. It might even have some concrete detail. But the one thing it doesn’t have is the one thing that a good story can’t exist without:

Plot. Structure.

What’s missing from the anecdote is what we call in rhetoric “vicarious experience.” The whole reason stories exist is to trick my brain into believing that I have experienced something that I haven’t experienced. When I listen to a really good story, my brain processes the experience as it would if I had been doing the play by play of the story myself--not exactly, obviously, but approximately. 

Not understanding that isn’t really your fault, though. You’re getting a lot of superficial, profit-driven advice.

Like the platitude-fest called the Goal Digger podcast, created, not surprisingly by some social media influencer business guru person named Jenna Kutcher. Episode 13 analyzes the “storytelling” advice from Kutcher, reveals it to be just advice about anecdotes and Instagram captions, and discusses the importance of creating vicarious experience in your stories.

Then I leave you hanging until Episode 14 to learn how to write a really stellar story. But I do play you a clip from Fight Club, so we’re even.

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