Another day, another post. A post to be consumed and discarded. In one ear and out the other.
I struggle with being a content creator. I resent that to be successful as a content creator you must consistently put out content. That if you want a higher probability of being discovered, you must put out more content, more often. Not only that, but you must develop that content for multiple platforms. If you want higher reach on those platforms, then you must develop content specifically for that platform. You’ve moved from creating art to feeding an algorithm designed to benefit the algorithm’s creator, not necessarily you. You’ve become part of the content machine.
The content machine does not sleep. The content machine has thousands of eyes waiting for the next sensational piece of entertainment to numb us from the reality of our lives. Demand is high. So the content creators deliver the supply, like dealers helping a junkie with their next fix.
Around 3.7 million videos are uploaded to YouTube every single day. Do we really need that much? How much new insight is really created? How much nutrition is actually delivered to our minds? Are we not just creating so much noise that finding the signal is almost impossible?
So another week arrives on your content calendar. A deadline looms to produce another piece of content. Do you create content just for the sake of getting something out? Or do you create to add to the wisdom of our time? The latter may mean you miss your deadline. However, won’t what you create better the lives of those who have given you their valuable time and attention?
What happened to creating works of art to be contemplated, writings to be wrestled with, words to be listened to over and over because everytime you hear them they reveal a depth to your soul you did not realize that existed? Ought we strive for more than another mere like? We have an untold power of distribution that only Hermes could dream of. Yet we push out empty words for another dollar, another like, another shot of hitting virality. Little do we realize that the most renowned, most controversial, most consumed, highest selling piece of content is one that was created 2700 years ago… the bible. Regardless of your faith, or lack thereof, it’s undeniable that its creators spent a great deal of time creating a work of great importance to be studied for generations to come. Not consumed and discarded in 60 seconds.
At this time you may be asking, “Brandon, aren’t you being a hypocrite right now?” You’re right. I’m here feeding the content machine, too. It’s a system. One that’s not disappearing anytime soon. One that even given all its downsides, also has tremendous benefits. One that, given the intention of the content creator, can spread wisdom far and wide. I’m trying to deliver a nutritional meal guised as sweet, sweet candy. However, systems have rules that must be followed. So if you wish to create effective change in that system, you must learn and play by the rules of the game first, then begin bending and breaking them until you get your desired outcome. I also realize that my capacity to deliver insight is limited. My skills are mediocre. Consistently creating content is giving me the opportunity for deliberate practice. So that one day my words may be swollen with value.
What I ask of you, whether as a content creator or a consumer, is to do so with intention. Intention not just for mere entertainment, but with substance. If you’re creating, create a signal, rather than noise. If you’re consuming, turn on your brain, rather than turn it off. Don’t be another cog in the machine to perpetuate the machine. Use the machine to perpetuate the betterment of you and your fellow people.
In an interview on the Lex Fridman podcast, John Carmack, an engineer working on Oculus, stated the goal has been to make the experience inside the headset better than that of outside the headset in order to increase time spent using it.
Are we not just jacking ourselves into the Matrix? I fear that people will be all too eager to leave reality. Take as evidence the large quantity of drugs or hedonistic entertainment we consume in order to distract ourselves from reality. Why are we so eager to leave this painful but beautiful existence behind?
What is in question is the goal. A goal is an aim, and we should be careful at what we aim at. What is the ultimate aim? Human flourishing? Does increased time spent in the Metaverse lead to that? Hard to tell. As someone who spent much of his youth playing video games, I can tell you it was a great benefit to my life. But so was all the time I did not spend playing. The Metaverse should be a supplement to real life, not a replacement. How might we design the Metaverse to enhance our reality, widen our perspective, rather than replacing it?
There is value in the Metaverse for its potential to run hundreds or thousands of simulations to solve problems for better ways of living. It could also allow us to test living in a different way, say being trangender, before applying it to real life. Although, the models we create will be quite crude as humans have a limited understanding of complex systems. This is why I believe we will still long for the real world. The processes that make up nature are too complex for humans to perceive, let alone code.
Of course one could argue we are already living in a simulation and each of our lives are an experiment to test the best possible parameters for survival given a set of circumstances. In which case, I would want to know the true reality beyond this one.
I'm weary of the Metaverse, but I think it could be a necessary step in the evolution of humanity. If our species is compared to that of a virus, using resources until depletion, then putting our consciousness into a virtual reality with limitless resources may be the only way to continue living and growing. However, someone will have to stay in the “real world'' to tend to energy production, computer servers, and meat suits that still house our consciousness. There may come a time when one must choose which reality to live in. I for one believe there is much beauty in human existence. That the act of holding another human, of hearing birds in the morning as the sun rises, of smelling the rain, is too sweet to leave behind.
I choose reality.
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