TELL BETTER STORIES IS...
THE MESSAGES WE CONSTANTLY SEE IN OUR SOCIAL FEEDS AND IN OUR LIVES ARE THIS: ALCOHOL IS THE NORM.
This message is particularly prevalent in lifestyle media geared toward women. I encourage more thoughtful approach to telling stories around alcohol.
First things first: I am not a prohibitionist. I (Erin Shaw Street) am sober and I do celebrate voices of sobriety. But you don't have to be sober to tell stories that involve more sensitive and thoughtful messaging. In other words, why do keep promoting wine o'clock memes and beer yoga when we know that we're in the midst of a public health crisis when it come to alcohol consumption? Furthermore, what stories are we missing when we use alcohol messages as a shortcut to talking about how we deal with everyday life? I believe there's a better way to construct messages, one that doesn't involve alcohol as the answer to everything.
Today more than 20 million people in the US have substance abuse disorders. Rightly so, we hear a lot about opioids, but alcohol still kills more people. The bad news: problematic drinking is dramatically on the rise, particularly among women. Yet we still keep making, consuming, and sharing content that glorifies drinking.
Do you see the disconnect? I do.
Our challenge: since we're all creators now, how do we create thoughtfully?
My aim is to create conversation about this topic and help develop useable guidelines to help tell better stories around alcohol in lifestyle media. This work involves much more than sharing memes: it's about highlighting issues, challenge, and solutions for women who are bombarded with images that they are not enough.
THIS IS WHAT WE ARE DOING
AND HOW WE NEED YOUR HELP:
1. Collect and surface examples in 2018 -- good and bad -- of the depiction of alcohol use in media and pop culture (with an emphasis on women's lifestyle). This includes written pieces and images the depict the alcohol as lifestyle narrative. We look for examples in traditional media, social media, marketing, and in home decor/clothing/product. The list goes on. We share these examples, along with facts about alcohol and suggestions for content creators, on our Instagram (@tellbetterstories2018) and on our Facebook: Tell Better Stories page.
When you share, please let us know if you are willing to use your name, or if you'd like for that to be kept private. And feel free to include any comments on what an image or story means to you, and if you'd like those to be shared, let us know.
2. Encourage constructive dialogue
We want people to think. In particular, we want them to think about how we contribute to a drinking culture. Again, this is not about if you drink or not, but a recognition that there are many, many people who don't, can't, or won't drink. How do we create safe spaces where sober folks or dry folks or people who "opt out" aren't bombarded by the booze narrative. Yes, some aren't bothered by the memes and jokes, but others are fighting for their lives. And still others need to know: it's totally OK not to drink.
This is not a simple topic. People often have intense relationships to alcohol, relationships that we don't have with say, yogurt. (There aren't a lot of Yogurt All Day shirts, right?) It's tough to talk about this without some folks thinking you are judging them. All we ask is that you sit back and think about the bigger picture, one that goes far deeper than a meme.
3. Present facts and make suggestions. This is solutions-based work.
Our goal is to not just complain about the problem, but to develop suggestions for content creators, media companies, and marketers to enable them tell a more sensitive, thoughtful, and inclusive story.
4. Create messages to let content creators, media companies, and marketers know you want them to Tell A Better Story.
We're working to create language that you can share. Instead of complaining within our circles, we need to reach out and tell content creators, marketers, and other business owners that it's time for a better story around alcohol.
5. Support alternative voices. This includes people who have opted out of drinking, however they define their relationship to alcohol. We believe one way we can Tell Better Stories is to showcase content that shows that there IS an alternative to the drinking culture we see celebrated each day.
TELL BETTER STORIES IS NOT:
*The booze police, believing every person has agency to decide to drink or not
*Advocating a specific form of recovery (other than one that recognizes there are many paths)
*A project based in fear or shame
TELL BETTER STORIES AIMS TO BE:
*A project to start conversations
*Kind always; critical when necessary
*Hopeful about media in 2018
WE ARE ALWAYS:
*Grounded in editorial integrity
*Advocates for good storytelling
*Inclusive and intersectional
And we want to hear from you! Please reach via email (Erin@tellbetterstoriesmedia.com) or on any of our platforms. We can only tell better stories together.
-- Erin Shaw Street
MEET THE FOUNDER
ERIN SHAW STREET
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