Why Are We So Afraid to Create?
My daughter didn’t know I had memes on my Instagram account. Normally this wouldn’t be that extraordinary of a statement; however, my children communicate in memes. My oldest communicates complicated ideas by sharing memes. Her younger brother watches YouTube videos with commentary based on memes.
They then compare their meme knowledge over dinner, while their impressionable primary school siblings try to figure out what they are talking about.
Suddenly, my 13-year-old is trying to make his face look like a frog while my 17-year-old is adding a filter to his face on Snapchat.
In summary, my household is full of memes, yet my children did not know I was making them as well. So, when I asked my meme-loving teenager to help me create this meme, she looked at me in disbelief.
“You create memes?”
“Of course, I do.”
The silence was kind of awkward.
I think she felt like I was too old to create memes. Perhaps that every meme was created by a bored college student. She forgot that my generation created social media.
How do you even do that? she asks.
Creativity on the internet is a lost art, especially in social media. With so many people talking, and information as valuable as it is, it is much easier to learn toward the trusted experts.
You know, to save time.
But you know what? A lot of those trusted experts were bored college students at one point as well.
In other words, many of our online influencers are simply bloggers and personalities that put in the work. Over time they learned how to record better videos. Over time they interacted with more people on Twitter. Over time they posted more pictures. There is no shortcut to expertise, but everyone wants the fame.
So, we share, and it makes us feel relevant among all of the influencers.
There’s nothing wrong with being a sherpa. I was one for a long time. I’d research and write on so many topics my head would have exploded if I allowed myself to retain it. I would guess that I single-handedly have added 10 million words to the internet. Twenty years of writing stuff adds up. However, the last five years, the number has dropped. I haven’t been creating. I have been sharing.
I could tell you plenty of things about plenty of things, but I knew nothing. What good was that?
So, I started to change.
First, I left Facebook. There were many reasons for this, but one huge one was the site’s tendency to discourage creativity. Yes, I just CREATED that argument, I am not citing some research. I personally think that Facebook kills creativity via its user interface.
In the real world, if you have 15 friends, and you show them your cat, those 15 friends will either pet it, sneeze, or back away. They will acknowledge the fact that you showed them your cat though. The same is not true with Facebook.
On Facebook, if you post a picture of your cat, you mom might see it. The rest of your friends will be too busy looking at their favorite celebrity’s cat.
So, you join in and share a picture of their cat instead.
Look, I get it. The Internet is awesome. It connects us with the world. It gives us access to so much information. It’s a highway of endless possibilities.
But what happens when some pedestrian walks across the freeway……
We must be willing to create. We can’t keep sharing the lives of others. We can’t continue depending on the expertise of those more dedicated to a subject than we are. If we want anyone to treat us like we matter, we have to first believe that we matter.
Creating — from our own experiences, from our own intuition, from our own passions is what makes life amazing. Even if no one bothers to follow.