In the first podcast episode of Season 3 of Leading Through Stories, we dive deep into the world of digital storytelling with Mike Lang, the founder of Common Language Digital Storytelling. Mike discusses the importance of storyteller wellbeing, an aspect that is often overlooked but plays a critical role in the process of creating and sharing narratives.
Mike, who is not only a digital storytelling leader but also a researcher, shares insights from his PhD work on Digital Storytelling in Healthcare Settings. His findings underscore the potential of digital storytelling to empower patients and their families, enabling them to share their experiences in meaningful ways. This power of expression can significantly enhance their wellbeing, focusing on the therapeutic intent embedded in the process of storytelling.
Throughout the episode, Mike stresses the importance of emotional preparedness in handling storytelling. Storytellers often navigate through the highs and lows of life-altering decisions and experiences. The ability to manage these emotions and provide care and support for the storytellers is crucial for any facilitator.
The podcast episode offers insights into Mike’s work with a group of young adult cancer survivors for his PhD documentary, Emerging Horizons. Mike discusses his experience of recognizing one of the workshop participant’s intense emotions and providing her the support she needed. This narrative sheds light on the human side of digital storytelling, emphasizing the importance of care and concern for storytellers.
The conversation then transitions into the ethical considerations involved in digital storytelling. Mike addresses the dichotomy between academic and practical approaches to ethics, explaining how the academic tendency to de-identify and control every aspect of a story can be counterproductive. In contrast, digital storytelling promotes a more inclusive and empathetic approach, respecting the storyteller’s desire to be part of their narrative.
The podcast concludes with a discussion on the empowering potential of digital storytelling. Kristy shares an anecdote from the World Congress of Pediatric Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery, where she shared a story from Jen Siran’s digital story, Day One. The experience underscored the value of storytelling and conversation in creating meaning from experiences and enhancing storyteller wellbeing.
The insights from this episode serve as a stark reminder of the human side of digital storytelling; a side that requires respect, understanding, and care. It is a call to action for all of us involved in the realm of digital storytelling to ensure the well-being of the storytellers is prioritized. After all, it is their experiences and their voices that breathe life into the narratives that we share.
“If there’s one overarching thing I would think about it’s opening and closing wounds. When you ask someone to tell a story about a healthcare experience or a meaningful moment in their life, it sort of opens a bit of a wound in their soul… When it comes to storyteller wellbeing, we just need to make sure that when we open someone’s wound, that we hold space for that wound to be open, but also at some point, help people close it.”
~ Mike Lang PhD
About Our Guest
Mike Lang is a digital storytelling facilitator, health researcher, filmmaker and founder of Common Language DST. He has directed and produced five feature length documentaries and two web series about the human health experience in addition to publishing academic research articles and facilitating the creation of over 800 digital stories. Mike’s professional and research focus is on using digital storytelling and documentary filmmaking in an education/advocacy, quality improvement, research, and therapeutic capacity within healthcare systems.
All Social Media: @mikelangstories
Common Language DST facilitator trainings are open for registration.
Learn more here.
About Leading Through Stories
Everyone has a story to tell—and what we do with that story can create lasting impact. Every episode, Leading Through Stories, helps unravel the how and why of digital storytelling with host Kristy Wolfe.
Life is made up of meaningful moments—which ones do you want to share?
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