(A screen shot of our Let There Be Peace On Earth holiday video with The Sound Collage)
I read that it takes fourteen months for a grocery store apple to get from the tree to your hand. Each apple goes on an epic journey, from farm to plate. Similarly, do you ever think about the way that content is created before it reaches your Facebook news feed on the journey from someone's mind to your computer?
I do. I feel the weight of personal responsibility for every click, comment, and share that I contribute to the cyber sphere. Because every single click-action we take feeds somebody. Or has the potential to cause harm.
Think on that. There is an ancient yogic idea that every word we utter has a lasting, vibrational effect. I’m not talking about invisible magic vibes here though, I’m pointing to the very real effects of consuming the words directed at us. Have your parents ever said anything that stayed with you your entire life? Have you ever read something online that you thought about for hours?
Inspirational or destructive, words leave an indelible print on the walls of our subconscious. We are human megaphones. We press the Internet to our lips, and we speak the word.
As someone who used to strictly operate online as a content consumer, it has been a real education to closely observe the work of content creators. Picture a distinct line drawn between two groups of people: the ones who control the conversations, and then everyone who reacts to them and gives them velocity. The people on one side of the line are making things: writing articles, designing campaigns, and making videos. Everyone else consumes the content and helps them out by sharing it.
Sharing something is a statement of enormous weight. It means that the content was important enough to recommend, and by using our megaphones, we give it relevance.
The Starbucks Christmas cup controversy is a perfect example of a planned, controlled conversation. Amazing marketing strategy. By moving the snowy designs to the coffee cup SLEEVES (which look beautiful against the red cup, btw), a clever creative team brought us a national conversation about Starbucks.
Were you outraged? Did you laugh at it? Talk about it with anyone? Share a news article about it? Basically, did you have ANY REACTION other than just standing there silently and shifting your focus to something else? Congrats! Just like the old Shake N Bake commercial….you helped. (Google that gem, my dear Millennials).
Sometimes it bothers me to think about how often I have allowed myself to be an unpaid paperboy for another person, or a corporation, who didn’t really deserve publicity or relevance. In the moment, I trusted them to speak on my behalf, but I might have no idea who made that or where it came from...or what those people want.
Creating credible content takes hard work and time: two resources that most people don't care to spend when its simply easier to recycle things that somebody else has made. Plus, its so boring. Facts over drama and uncertainty? Come on. Fear, anger, and outrage is the magic serum for generating clicks. Bloggers get paid by the click.
So truth is stretched....and the credibility of journalists is no longer a "thing", because "facts" and "truth" are unnecessary in an age where stories are allowed to "unfold" and "develop" (code for: oh, we can change it later even if it ruins someone's life first).
Tell me: if you saw an army of ants marching towards your picnic, you might scream, you might run away, and you certainly wouldn't let them crawl all over and take your Camembert, right? Yet every single day, people hand over their voices (clicks, comments, relevancy) to corporations, celebrities, and news outlets that want everything from money and favor, to the ears of our friends. We let them take control of our personal Megaphones!
Yes, it's hard to sort out the truth from the marketing....yet when I imagine what a different, impactful and powerful world we could give ourselves, it motivates me to be someone who Does The Talking instead of someone who just blindly hands over my megaphone. I want to be more of a Creator, than a Consumer.
So the next time we're faced with an inflammatory post, it's worth asking ourselves: did I come to this conclusion or did this conclusion come to me? Whose hands are on my megaphone?
What can I do to ADD to the conversation, instead of regurgitating what someone else has said? Comments don't count....I'm talking about really producing content.
To the drawing board my friends! We have a better world to create!