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I hear about “Content” constantly, and I’ve grown tired of it. People need Content for their YouTube channel, to keep an audience, fill books, etc. I finally realized why it gets up my nose – because the focus on Content doesn’t consider meaning.
Too often, when people talk about Content, it’s about needing to have it for some reason. The channel has to have Content for the algorithm! The blog needs Content to keep people’s attention. The Podcast needs Content because you’re on a schedule and people expect it. The existence of Content matters more than what the Content is.
When we speak of Content, we mean writing, discussions, videos, etc. We’re talking about something that is meaningful or should be. It may be a good chuckle or a life-changing revelation, but Content is about something supposedly that has value in itself.
The demand for Content makes our creations secondary to mathematical formulae and marketing calculations. Content is just something we use to fill a space, the packing peanuts of the soul. The meaning of that Content is secondary to just having something to pour into a container.
That’s what irritated me about the constant chats about Content – the value, the importance of the creative work wasn’t relevant. You could boost the YouTube algorithm with a picture of you shirtless and silently reading Terry Pratchett or a detailed guide to creating resumes, and the result might be the same. The idea of Content these days flattens the value and meaning of creation itself.
This situation makes it harder to become better at what you do. When your critical goal is creating Content, then shoveling works out the door takes priority over making better works. It’s all attention or meeting a wordcount, or whatever first, the work is secondary.
There’s a soullessness to it all and I can now put words to it.
For me, I think I’m going to think over what I make and why a little more. I can see where I’ve fallen into the Content trap and where I’ve sought depth. I also see where I may get distracted by “shiny Content” and not ask if it’s something I care about.
But for now, when I cringe at yet another discussion of Content I’ll know why.