The Freedom of Creating, the Captivity of Consuming

by Nate St. Pierre on August 7, 2012

Over the past six weeks, I spent a ton of time with my kids during their summer break, so I gave up most of the time I would have usually spent creating new things. During those six weeks I turned into a content consumer, rather than a content creator.

The difference in my outlook on the world and my general state of mind during that time period was striking.

Creating content takes time. Simply writing the 70 words above took me a full twenty minutes. I had to take the time to organize my thoughts, pull out the main points, and come up with the direction of this article. And I still have to write it! A typical blog post usually takes me 1-3 hours to write. Yes, I know I’m slow, thank you.

I didn’t have this kind of time over the summer, so instead I used the little windows of opportunity I had to consume other people’s content. I read a lot of blog posts. I watched snippets of movies and TV shows and shorter videos online. I read a couple books in bits and pieces. Due to some unusual circumstances, I was even exposed to some of the local news. I do not recommend this. I usually have an 80/20 percent split in my life: 80% creating content, and 20% consuming. Over the summer it was flipped to 80/20 the other way. It felt really unhealthy for me, and here’s why:

Your thoughts get directed by others

When you consume information, you tend to digest it as it’s presented to you, in the way the author intends. While this may not be completely fair, it’s still a fact of life. Sure, you can choose which sources to consume, but you’re still directed along their line of thinking, instead of taking all the time your brain needs to think for itself, evaluate the situation fully, and come to its own conclusion.

News is absolutely horrible for this. Sound-bite arguments on two extreme sides of a given issue will poke little holes in your brain. Damaging holes. Local news will make you feel helpless, trapped, and angry, and what’s worse, it’ll get you addicted to the drama. It’s awful.

Blog posts are only slightly better, because at least they have more time to explore a topic, but still, the vast majority exist to push a certain viewpoint, rather than calmly evaluate multiple sides of a given issue.

Even this blog post is the same kind of thing, right? I’m pushing you to get into the mindset that creating is better than consuming. Who am I do say what’s right for you or not? Maybe this advice is 100% wrong for you, and you’re wasting your time by reading this. That’s not my place to figure out, it’s yours.

In fact, I’m going to stop us both right now. This article isn’t finished, but it doesn’t need to be. Go do something better with your time, and so will I.

(Image source: molotalk)

  • Peliroo

    Interesting. I never watch the news. It’s too much poison to take with the info I can just get via AP twitter updates.
    I have a similar thought about books I read. With a few exceptions, I can only really read books that have main characters I would be friends with in real life. Even if the subject matter is interesting, I will put the book down if the main character is a boozing floozy. I’ve invited these characters into my consciousness. Their thoughts become part of my interior monologue. They better be people with good thoughts.
    Similarly I think reading news, blogs, watching vids and pulling in that info does push away your original thoughts and creativity. More inflow than outflow. If I look at it like a system, the inflow doesn’t match outflow and the pressure is building.
    Glad you wrote this. Makes me want to be more creative and keep the mental system balanced.
    Sorry if there are typos. I’m writing from the phone.

  • stickshiftlife

    I like your blog posts. A lot. Very timely article for me too. Thank you, Nate. 

  • Chunk

    Haha, I like the ending. I’ve ended things in a similar way a few times.

  • Sorry, I was working on my latest projects so I have not been waiting anxiously for your next blog. I do enjoy them though when I take the time to read them.

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