It was New Year’s Eve, and I was wrapping up my shift at work when I realized something awful: that for a while now, I’d been incredibly disinterested and poorly invested in the art my friends were making. Perhaps in turn, this meant that the same was happening in the other direction — that everyone didn’t care about the art I made either. After all, why would they if I couldn’t offer them the same respect? So we had this odd cycle of apathy that nobody seemed able or willing to break. I couldn’t care enough to indulge myself in their creations, while they couldn’t be bothered to check out mine.
For a little while, I thought about this. I contemplated that in the face of media titans, we were all specks, and after consuming superhero movies or epic video games, our works were tiny candles flicking out next to wildfires. Nobody wanted to light a candle; we just wanted to watch the forest burn. Our media turned to a strategy of shock and awe, grabbing every single iota of our attention, and it worked. It worked so well that we stopped seeing each other’s success in the arts.
But then I remembered how Facebook wanted me to buy into their advertising models if I ever wanted my books, music, and games to be seen by strangers. It stood to obvious reason that social media giants wanted the same of all their users, and that every friend I had was just the potential for them to profit. And while I struggled to find strangers, my attempts to intrigue my friends were suppressed by both the system and the general disinterest created by the shock and awe of modern media. All of this, plus a lot more pedantic thought which I’ll skip for your reading pleasure, led me to a wretched conclusion, which is as follows:
Our society is now designed to diminish the contributions of creativity to encourage productivity, even if that creativity is a production for our economy and society.
We tell people to write, but we don’t read their stories or poems.
We tell people to compose music, but we don’t listen to their songs or tunes.
We tell people to act, but we don’t attend their shows or revues.
We tell people to cook, but we don’t try their tips or recipes.
We tell people to film, but we don’t watch their clips or montages.
We tell people to build, but we don’t see their designs or process.
And worst of all: we tell people to draw, but we take one look at their work and turn into terrible critics who don’t actually know how to criticize somebody’s art.
On a daily basis, you and I fight an avalanche of algorithms and disinterest that prevents the arts from being appreciated, unless that are is making somebody money. And despite our collective efforts to shut each other out, every person is creative. Art and design go hand in hand. Engineering is as magical as the renaissance canvas.
So my New Year’s Resolution is as follows: I will do my very best to motivate the people I am friends and coworkers with. I will try to become a cornerstone of appreciation, encouraging them to approach me with their hard work. I hope to become interested in their arts and their crafts, and I hope they find solace in my respect for their creations.
And I hope that you will do the very same.