and the ever diminishing value of our memories
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The undeserved fate of creativity
It was about 30 years ago when, watching MTV with my father, he complained to me that the rapid change of images on the screen was very annoying for him. Of course at the time, as a good teenager, I was quick to dismiss his complaints telling him that it was actually cool that we were taking in so much visual information in such little time. He didn’t get it… Time passed, I have become myself the father of a soon to be teenager and an 11 month old, and although I still enjoy the occasional quick paced movie or video game, I now appreciate the core teaching of that brief argument between generations. The concept of content overload.
You see although a genuine MTV youth, I grew up in a time when having 20-30 LP vinyls, 2-5 comic book collections and 5-10 genuine VHS movies, was the norm. People that had much more than that were either hobbyists or simply rich. And since I’ve already started hearing the angry mob pausing their iPods and saying “That was a different time grandpa!” and “Go back to your time capsule!”, I will make haste to what I am trying to say.
These days, when I see a nice artwork online, a good blockbuster movie or a well written article, I often feel kind of sad. The reason is that I know it will be forgotten to me and to most of the other people that will come upon it, much sooner that it may deserve. The next cool thing will come to replace it and push it back in our memory until its gone. Even the most special of the content that becomes viral has an expiration date in remembrance. And so people try to take it further and further, ending up having a guy jump from the stratosphere or something, so they can create this unique content that everyone will remember.
I hate snakes Jock, I hate 'em!
During the summer of 81 as a gang of kids on vacation we saw Riders of the Lost Ark, in various open summer cinemas in our area, about 4-5 times in average. Now I believe that to be for two reasons. First it was a great movie and the best storytelling substitute while waiting for the next Star Wars. The second and most relative to this text, there really wasn’t anything else of that caliber in the cinemas. So we saw it again and again and it didn’t matter at all that we knew exactly what will happen in the next 43 seconds. For us this movie was precious, that summer but even today as a memory.
I would be willing to believe that every creator of any kind or art or type of communication has a genuine urge to reach out and touch their audience. We really believe that we have something special of even useful to say and we really want people to be able to appreciate our effort. But in the end there is too much content! There might even be another essay that describes the same concepts with this one, somewhere out there and probably doing a better job at it.
And for every success story that we see in the media, the gifted musician, the restless street artist, the witty writer, there will be thousands of evenly, or even more, talented people that will never see the bright lights of worldwide recognition. But even more importantly in my view, the success stories will soon be replaced with the next bunch so that people have something new to consume.
More wows, less memories...
“And so, apart from grouching what do you have to propose old timer?” the angry mob asks. Well, I believe that from trying to take over the whole world at once, we should try reaching out to those closer to us, because they will be the ones that will more eagerly open their hearts to our content. Because they will know us. As people and not just as another piece of dispensable content. In the end it should be about the people and their content, not about the content itself or the constructed image of its creators. What is really unique is the mind of the creative person and even more their authentic interaction with their audience. The more massive and faceless that interaction, the more forgettable it will be in the end. Content isn’t going to get any less, so what I propose to for us as creators to try and be more accessible and true.
I know that all this rhetoric goes against most of the practices of creating and distributing content used today. But as we see around us more and more often, this is a time of disruption. It is a time that many masks are falling and people are searching for a truer meaning to it all.I believe all of us, no matter how old or young, will always have that favorite song, movie, book or whatever else touched our hearts for the right reasons in the right time. These are the exceptions that will stay with us as content attached to a memory, like my Indiana Jones summer. What I believe we need more today is to make some kind of connection with the creator and actually share their creation with them.
Apart from all that I still believe its cool to be bombarded by rapidly changing visuals! Sorry dad…