Consume / Create

Consume / Create

I think a lot about consuming versus creating. Consuming media comes easy to most people. The old world of broadcasting was dependent on consumers: television, radio, newspapers, magazines, books, the music industry, and on and on… they had to do one thing: pump out content that people would consume, and they did it well. 20 years ago if you wanted to create your own media, be it music, photography, writing, whatever, you had a lot of work to do to get any sizable audience to see it. Bands had to physically go out and play, go on tour, put on great shows, play good music, and hope people told their friends. Self-publishing a book 20 years ago? Getting your photos in front of a world-wide audience 20 years ago? How was that done?

Of course the World Wide Web came along and changed things quite a bit. Creating things became much easier, and distributing them even easier! You don’t even need to press vinyl or CDs anymore, or get prints made from your photos, everything is electronic now, and wowza aren’t we that much better off for it! The odd thing is, I almost feel like we’re reaching a point where consuming is overtaking creating, even though it doesn’t have to. I don’t know if it’s due to more “average” people using the web, or people have grown tired, or the novelty has worn off, or people are not staying discontent with the status quo. Creating new things should be more within our reach than ever before, but you’ve still got to have the motivation to do something about it.

I could blame social media. If I want to be a curmudgeon, I could say that 10 years ago I remember reading (and hopefully writing) so many blog posts about what people were creating and doing and ideas and thoughts and stories… and now it’s just simple to write a snarky comment in 140 characters, or click a ‘Like’ button next to someone post. And yeah, I’m guilty of this too, and maybe I feel bad about it sometimes because I’m one of those people who feels this need to create things… I feel like I can’t not try to make new things. They tell me that’s the curse of being creative.

But it’s not all bad… some amazing things happen every now and then. Consider that you can get the equipment to create “professional” level work for a mere fraction of the cost of what it would have taken 20 years ago, and we should be seeing an explosion in creativity. The tools are available, so it’s a matter of the creators getting the tools, and being able to focus on creating rather than consuming. If you’re not careful, consuming can be the enemy of creating.