Content Creator: Lion or Jellyfish?
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"Content Is King," but What Kind?
Do you remember the five paragraph essay from grade school? The teacher assigned a theme to write on, and then he allowed you an introduction, conclusion, and three body paragraphs.
No free will was involved, and you had a container with five sections that you were supposed to fill up. I won a silly little contest on "The Value of Freedom in a Democracy," when I was in the seventh grade.
Ironic topic, freedom.
Everyone read their essays in front of the class, and we sat for an hour listening to equally shallow and hollow essays that lacked spirit, passion, and engagement.
All agreed with the mandated presumption that the United States was great because of freedom. They were essays that only a mother could love and hang on the fridge.
The exercise failed to generate one original idea, and every essay with meaningless drivel received a big U.S. flag sticker. "Hooray for democracy!"
Students failed to thrive because teachers put them in the role of a jellyfish - lacking a spine - and the writing was forced. Creative tyranny.
The Psychology: Does Restriction Lead to Creativity or Mediocrity?
The problem is that the teachers demand uniformity. All essays had to be the same format, length, sources and contain the same information. Innovation, creativity, and freedom are squelched by the rules of the game.
Content repetition such as this leads to boredom, and the message is disregarded by readers. The writers are commanded what to say and think. Flannery O'Connor spoke to the problem the assignment created:
âI write because I don't know what I think until I read what I say.â
Writing is a creative thinking process filled with the discovery and invention of ideas.
However, the creative process can be inhibited by too many rules and constraints, and blogging is no different.
Science states this of creativity and restraint:
Although self-restriction can often boost creativity, the Harvard study shows that external restrictions are almost always a bad thing for creative thinking. This includes subtle language use that deters creativity, such as bosses claiming âWe do things by the book around here,â or group members implicitly communicating that new ideas are not welcome.
Ciotti states that personally generated boundaries increase creativity, but external intervention stifles it. Authority figures must be cautious not to shut down innovation.
Pressures on Bloggers Result in a Glut of Mediocre and Repetitious Content
You may be thinking, "What pressures do bloggers experience? They seem free." You are partially correct.
Many bloggers are independent and are free to write as they please, but many still have demands imposed on them from the outside rather than within.
Some examples of constraints that bloggers cope with include:
Simply making posts longer will only create more information overload. Some of the other constraints are mild, but the list is not comprehensive and bloggers deal with pressures from every direction.
An internet-wide trend stems from these restrictions, producing watered down and repetitive content.
Readers confront this glut of information, and "Indecisiveness or analysis paralysis occurs when youâre 'overwhelmed by too many choices, your brain mildly freezes by default, [and] you passively wait and see.'â Neither the reader nor the writer benefits from too many similar choices.
A Lion's Courage: Bloggers with Vision, Revolt, and Passion
Currently a glut of poorly written and researched information floods the internet. One hope is that search engines will become increasingly adept at finding the valuable information we desire."The filters will get better and search will get better, but if we ask the same old questions, we'll get the same old stuff" Esther Dyson says.
She focuses on two of the roles that must be played for creativity on the internet - the activity of search engines and the formation of better questions by the searcher.
Unsaid is that both of those roles put bloggers under pressure to please Google and readers. How can a blogger find a space for free speech and ideas?
Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
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