Published 30 September 2017 Category: Compass Tips, Marketing

The Consumer Myth

Why we should consciously Choose Creativity Over Consumerism.

The Consumer Myth is the idea that artists and creatives can consume media without being affected by it. My generation spent much of our childhoods convincing our parents that this wasn’t true, especially when it came to video games. We certainly weren’t alone – we had the help of the video game companies and sponsored “research”. To this day, a massive faction of our culture insists that what goes in our brains doesn’t come back out. However, what we consume does affect us.

Sure, watching ultra-violent movies, listening to hardcore music, and playing M-rated games isn’t going to make every person a mass murderer, but it does have an effect which is far more subtle. It slowly modifies our thought processes. It settles into our subconscious and surfaces in moments of creative solitude. And so while I’m consciously avoiding the whole “video games are evil” debate, (c'mon, everyone was in on it from lecturers to heads of state and mostly everyone in between); I am asking you to admit what you should already know: that what you consume affects your thoughts – and surfaces in creative moments.

And why we, as creative people, should consciously choose creativity over consumerism. We are creatives first, consumers second. We should not only consume culture, we should create it.

Why All Artists Should Believe In The Power Of Media
All media we take in exerts an influence on us to some degree. Whether through our eyes or ears, it has an effect both in our conscious and subconscious mind. Artists cannot refuse this fact. If we deny that, then we deny that our art has an effect on people we seek to reach! And how depressing is that concept? No, we have to believe it. If we are to give our chosen profession any meaning, that is.

Think about it: we can’t have it both ways. If we say media has little to no effect, then we’re putting ourselves out of a job as creators and curators of content.

Antique Homework Avoidance Device, Circa 1989

It’s a matter of volume… the more the volume of media consumed in a more compressed amount of time will result in more of an effect. Smaller amounts of media spread out over time does not have as much of an effect, but is still exerts an influence, however subtle.

I should mention one other area where media exerts a huge influence… over children. Their minds are like sponges, retaining massive amounts of information. (They don’t, however, know how to process a lot of it.) Kids can recall (and adults can recall when they were kids) even the tiniest of details in media messages. And these stay with them for life. Elderly people often recall childhood memories even when all other memories have failed because the childhood ones were embedded deeply. Parents, be aware of this… that’s just a friendly public service announcement for you.

Garbage In. Garbage Out.
Okay, let’s move forward assuming that we’re all on the same page here…that media affects us to varying degree, depending on factors such as age, quantity, and length of exposure. Now, let’s look at what we consume.

If we inundate ourselves with base, meaningless drivel, then our creative work will suffer. It’s like pretending what we eat doesn’t affect our minds and bodies. (And this is coming from a guy who, over the years, has consumed quite a lot of base, meaningless drivel).

Needless to say, we may want to consciously control what we take into our creative brains.