Creating vs Consumption and Happiness

Posted by Jonathan Weyermann on November 7, 2017 at 12:00 AM

6364758657 14efcdb856 b

Are producers of content (writing, music, TV, video games, software) happier than those who consume it? Does happiness come from consuming content, or producing it? Some would argue that people who only consume content are watching, listening or reading about others living their lives,  whereas producers are actually living it. For instance, hockey players or actors are working and producing 'content',  getting paid for what they love to do,  whereas many of us just passively observe them, in what is probably the lowest and most braindead of activity. 

I think we need both to be happy. Sometimes you may just want to indulge and watch your favorite series, sport or play a video game. This brings happiness in the moment,  and for a time afterwards. It can even be a great shared experience that allows you to bond with others. After a hard day's work, often all that may be left is the desire just to be a consumer,  whether it be food or entertainment. Consuming content is definitely easier than producing content,  especially materials of the quality others would want to consume. 

To truly achieve long term happiness,  producing content is much more meaningful, especially if many people benefit from it. This second point is sometimes the issue with producing content.  You can put things out there,  but getting other people to consume it can be difficult. You should not let that discourage you. If you want to be a writer, a speaker, a designer, a developer, athlete or an actor, you should be willing to do all those things regardless of your audience. Passion for these things must long precede success, for without it,  you will give up long before any success comes.

The advent of social media has given many of us an audience for our content.  But are we actually contributing anything meaningful or helpful to someone else? Many of us just use social media to build up an image of ourselves,  to make us feel better by sharing our most noteworthy moments in life. It even seems like a financially successful strategy for some, sharing images of themselves on instagram. While it may be a good way to gather an audience, I think eventually it would be more fulfilling to be using it as a platform for our art or our writing, to contribute something meaningful to teach,  mentor and lift up other people.

Besides fulfillment, creation of content has many benefits. It fosters critical thought, requiring one to succinctly express thoughts,  synthesize knowledge from multiple sources and confidently express researched opinions. It requires knowledge far above the level of consumption. Teaching others your knowledge takes your own understanding of your craft to the next level. 

Most meaningful jobs require the creation of something. Whether it's a physical product,  lesson plans, reports, spreadsheets or code, being an succinct, efficient creator is a valuable skill. While you may view this as obvious, and are more than willing to exchange your time to create something of value at work, the true test is to create something where the monetary reward isn't immediately obvious, and no one is monitoring you. 

Being able and willing to create something outside of what is required of you at work not only makes one more valued and desired by employers, but also more capable in a self-employed capacity,  being more equipped to offer others value directly,  without hiding behind an employer. Aside from investing money you already have, and relying on your employer,  it is another path to freedom. Having many customers, viewer or clients has its benefits over a single employers, but it is also a more difficult path, at least initially. It can give you flexibility in terms of where and when you work, but can also force you to be always available. Creating for others as an employee, and merely consuming in your spare time, is definitely the path of least resistance.  Does it ultimately being happiness,  or does that require carving our own path in life? I think we are all different,  and we each have to choose what we think is the best path for ourselves. 

In future posts, I will focus on how to find your area of contribution, how to stay motivated, how to find time to become a content creator. You will also learn how to contribute more consistently and how to become a better artist, developer,  designer or blogger. 

Let me know your thoughts below.