Are you a consumer or a creator? No, don’t answer that. It’s a bad question. It’s not a valid question because while a great number of people consume, but do not create, creators are consumers as well. But for some reason I find myself tempted to separate people into the two categories. I don’t know why, but I’m sure the habit is somehow self-serving.
There is a enormous and ever growing body of content in the world that includes everything from articles to paintings to books to buildings. Creators are those who make the things, and consumers are those for whom we make them. What I’m always wondering, as a creator, is what kind of consumer I am. Am I consuming too much? Not enough? Because if you consume to much, there’s no time to create. If you don’t consume enough you can’t create anything well-informed or in the right context. And with enough new content created every day to fill weeks, if not months of continual consumption, the quest to strike the right balance is overwhelming. It makes me feel a tad panicky.
When people share obnoxious memes or mindless Buzzfeed articles (which they do, all day, every day), it makes me want to shake them and scream, “There’s not enough time for this, people! There are things we all need to know and learn and stay abreast with, AND NEITHER SKATEBOARDING CATS NOR “15 SIGNS YOU WERE BORN IN THE 1980S” ARE AMONG THEM.
Obviously, people are allowed to read and share whatever they want, and most people do not, nor should feel obliged to, apply outlandish layers of pressure to each decision to click on something. Sometimes it’s just supposed to be fun. I get that. Naturally, because of my fear of overdosing on ridiculous content, I tend to err on not consuming enough, which results in content binging when I’m researching a story or trying to come up with story ideas. The same is true with entertainment. I have either have no time to watch TV or read a book or I’m plowing through an entire series in a 72-hour binge. It’s exhausting.
I suppose that’s why I have the urge to classify consumers and creators as different types of people: because I am a terrible consumer. I’m horrible at it. And if I identify as a creator instead of a consumer, I don’t have to pay that fact too much mind.
But I should. As all creators should. It’s important to my work, and important to just being a person. A consumer. Which is what I am. I’m not sure how to go about striking the balance, but I think it’s important enough to try and figure out. I’ll probably start by making a list, because that’s what I do.
Anyone have any clever ideas?