The Facebook Style of Storytelling
It’s meant to entertain, but it might be a revolutionary technique of teaching children about what some may consider boring history. A Facebook group called “Armenian Facebookology” posts snapshots of supposed conversations between characters from Armenian history — many very funny and most historically accurate.
The story of the Assyrian queen Shamiram (Samirames) and Armenian king Ara the Beautiful, for instance, is completely described in just a few messages. According to the story, Assyria’s newly widowed queen Shamiram hears of the most handsome man alive — Armenia’s king Ara the Beautiful. Shamiram’s messangers’ offer to Ara to take the Assyrian queen and her kingdom are turned away — the loyal Armenian king won’t leave his wife Nuard. Angry at Ara’s rejection, Shamiram sends off her army to capture him physically. They do — but not before Ara is killed. To revive her Armenian crash, Shamiram orders the mystical animal Haralez (in Armenian, licker of Ara) to lick Ara back to life, but that never materializes. This beautiful tale of an Armenian man’s loyalty to his wife (which has unfortunately been replaced with widespread domestic violence in modern Armenia) is a great story. It’s much easier to read, however, through the Facebook discussion:
Shamiram > Ara the Beautiful (about 3,000 or so years ago): My life, when are you coming to take me and Babylon? Waiting, kiss <3.
Ara: Leave me alone, you idiot. And don’t write stuff like that on my wall any more.
Nuard: Hey Ara? What the hell is going on? What’s this love shmove with other queens?
Ara: Nv jan, you know my beauty is only for you; I will take care of this.
Shamiram: Handsome boy, you are screwed. My forces are on their way to your hood.
Ara: Whatever. Armenia’s courageous will give it to you.
Haralez: Man, you kill each other for stupid reasons and then I am the one who has to lick you back to life? It’s time for a change in career.
Most of the snapshots, like the one above, are in Armenian, but there are a few in English too — like that of Talaat Pasha of the Young Turks and his status update before his assassination.
“Armenian Facebookology” is, indeed, not the only one using the Facebook stationery for creative story-telling. Radio Free Europe, for instance, has been issuing ”a Facebook-style summary” of the week’s important events since April 2009 called “The Week in Facebook.” Around the same time, Slate magazine published a Facebook-style chronology of President Barack Obama’s 100 days in office. One of the lines reads:
|Barack Obama deleted “Armenian genocide, 1915-18″ from Interests.|
Less official websites, such as online forums, also have Facebook-style storytelling — quite similar to the Armenian project. Although the historical versions of Facebook-style storytelling seem to be entertainment so far, it might be time to consider using the platform to help teach history — and/or report news like Radio Free Europe does. Armenian Facebookology, for instance, reports the finding of the world’s oldest leather shoe in Armenia as follows:
Ancient Armenian [to] I am Upset [an actual Facebook user] (5500 years ago): I’m really getting annoyed over not being able to find my shoe! Looked all over the cave and can’t find it! Shoe!!!!
(The status update is “liked” by someone identified as “Armenian archaeologists”)
Ancient Armenian [commenting on the message]: Damn, I am late to my hunting. Well, I guess I will have to do with one shoe today. (5500 years ago)
Ancient Shoe: I am by the grape bowl.
Ancient Shoe: Hello, aren’t you coming?