Technology and Creative Nonfiction

As the world continues to modernize, technology has become ever-present in our lives. Inherently, our means of communication have changed as technologies have been introduced to us. Not only that, but the ways in which events and accounts are recorded and shared has also changed. That being said, the entire genre of creative nonfiction has been altered by technology. Memory is now in competition with social media and news outlet accounts of events. It can be hard to find the truth among thousands of different accounts of one instance. Some of our deepest, most heart-wrenching conversations have been held over text, completely erasing the author’s ability to describe time and space of face-to-face conversation. Our encounters with each other may be diminishing, and even though we have the greatest access to communication we’ve ever had, some would say that we are at the greatest disconnect of all time. In some ways, technology has impeded our ability to write powerful nonfiction pieces.


However, technology has also introduced certain benefits to authors. Can’t remember specifically what a place looked like? Odds are, you can find it on Google Maps street view. Can’t remember what a speaker said verbatim? The speech may have been recorded and uploaded to the internet. Can’t find a juicy descriptor? Online thesauruses will solve your problem in seconds. Students nowadays can write and submit entire essays on their phone. Writers can jostle down observations in their iPhone note pad and refer back to them when crafting a piece.


Whatever your take, however you look at it, technology has certainly changed the way in which we write. I would say creative nonfiction is the genre most significantly impacted by the exponentially increasing role of technology. As part of the 21st century tech era, we as writers must find a way in which we can balance technology in our craft as a writer. It’s up to the individual the extent to which they choose to rely on technology to alter their writing process. There are ways in which we can make it work for us, making the genre stronger and more robust than ever.

One thought on “Technology and Creative Nonfiction

  1. Maddy Adolf

    I think you bring up an interesting point here Shannon, technology is changing the way we can craft creative non-fiction. But I also think it makesit more dynamic. If I want to input text message dialog into an essay I get the exact original wording. As a amateur CNF writer, I like to stick to the truth. I hate putting words into people’s mouth if I can’t remember what they originally said. But with texts everything is there and ready for me. I also think that having the ability to replay a conversation out again and re-read what was said helps with reflection. I can pick up more on the meaning of the words said and be more critical about them. And depending on the essay, sometimes that’s key to me.

    But on the other side of things, I can see how technology can get in the way of the writing process. I’ve seen people get caught up in all the functions of technology when utilizing them to capture an immersion. Instead of living through the immersive experience they use their smart phones to re-live it later. Think of the last time you went to a concert, how many people did you see with their arms stretchered over their heads, bobbing and weaving to get record parts of the show on their phone or take a picture of the lead singer? In the images they capture, what are they left with? A soundless, motionless embodiment. And while they try to capture that amazing shot, their missing the show, the experience, disconnecting from the atmosphere in an attempt to be connected to it forever.

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