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Consumption vs Creativity

They Live – John Carpenter

As a self-styled “creative person”, how can I get a balance between the amount of media I consume on a daily basis, and actually producing something creative myself?

I’m an avid reader, whether it be ye olde fashioned tree-books or ye new fangled blog posts via google reader, or various magazines and newspapers. Working as a media monitor I go through all the daily papers most days and then there’s the other media I consume – TV news all day at work and then all the people I follow on tumblr when I get home, plus the odd TV programme that I enjoy.

But I consider myself a creative person – so how can I find time to actually be creative rather than just a giant media sponge? We are living in the information age, where it is quite literally EXPLODING in our faces everyday as we log onto the infinitenet. We now have the knowledge that it took Doctor Who (albeit a fictional character) lifetimes to acquire, at our slightly calloused fingertips. We can be sucked in by images, videos, music – all an incredibly strong draw to our unconscious minds which like nothing better than feeding on visual and audio stimulus for it’s own, often unclarified ends. And as we forge connections online, we also become involved in a competitiveness to find the next best amusing link, the killer photograph on flickr on weheartit, the blog post that explains the meaning of life itself in ten perfectly crafted bullet points or the mac application that’s going to change our lives – and to find it before everyone else.

There is no doubt in my mind that internet addiction is a serious, and growing problem – it’s something I think I may be suffering from myself as I struggle to achieve other goals such as keeping fit or learning the guitar because I’ve spent so much time keeping up with ‘the netbours’. And very often, it’s the most creative people who are drawn to it. Blogging or tumbling that reacts or recycles already produced images/music etc has a creativity to it of course, but it’s lower on the scale than actually producing original content yourself, just as there can be an art to journalistic criticism of music, films or books when done well – but it’s hard to hold it up there with the art of crafting a song or a film or a novel. Even when those things aren’t done particularly well, there’s still a stronger flame of creativity at work in producinig something original, in my opinion.

The problem is that consumption is EASY.

There are few barriers, apart from abject poverty, to getting hold of information in our culture. You don’t have to set aside time to read a blog, you just do it at some point throughout the day at work. You can pick up a book anytime. Most of us have an ipod or mp3 player crammed full of music which we can use anytime. And the TV, well that’s always on in the corner of the room, right?

To produce something creative, whether it be writing, music, film, or photography, you have to set aside the time for it. You have to do this in advance, and you have to make sure you stick to that plan.

The same goes for achieving anything worthwhile, whether it be learning a new skill, getting fit, or even maintaining friendships or contact with your extended family. Unfortunately this is a discipline I find extremely difficult – it’s so much easier to distract myself with endless information/entertainment. But.. I’m trying.. and that’s why sometimes my online output is erratic – because I’m not sure how beneficial it all really is. I love making connections with people, and that’s what keeps me doing it, but Im wondering if there isn’t a less time consuming way of doing that than what I’m doing now..

By Milo

Freelance writer and content creator.

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