Content Creation

Words matter. I’m not exactly impartial, but I believe that’s true.

Which words to use, when to use them, and when to say nothing at all — those are all important considerations. The mere fact of having words at all, and expressing ourselves or entertaining ourselves, or informing ourselves; it all matters.

There’s a trend towards trivialisation amongst those who make things on their own, and one of the biggest examples is the word “blog”. It has connotations of the ramblings of some random person, without authority or polish. I think it can be appropriate in cases where the material is clearly ancillary to a site’s main purpose and comments upon that purpose, as here on this site, but a standalone place for personal writing is so much more than blog has come to mean. Likewise, the individual components of a blog — which are not “blogs” — are called something like “posts”, instead of the more seemly “articles”.

Think about the word “posts” for a moment. It means a thing that’s put up somewhere, or sent somewhere. It focuses on the mechanic of putting-up, making the actual published material almost irrelevant. It’s an emission; it’s another chunk. That’s minimising, and trivialising. It’s insulting.

Now think of the word that’s bandied about most often today with respect to publishing creative work: content. It’s a hideous word, in that context. Content is fungible, space-filling, placeholder-replacing stuff, and that’s not even its most offensive connotation. The worst part of “content” is that it’s implicitly relative to its container. That’s what content means. The contents of a sandwich are with respect to the bread. The content is just what’s inside. It’s probably the most trivialising, demeaning, depressing, surrendering term out there — but people lay claim to it. People define themselves as makers of it.

I can think of few things more dystopian than proudly claiming to be a space-filler for the implicitly-more-legitimate frame or platform around your work. It’s reductive, and it reinforces and perpetuates a pernicious power dynamic of subservience. It devalues not only the specific work, but the act and the art of creating it in general.

Please don’t be a content creator. Be a writer, or a journalist, or a reviewer, or an artist, or whatever the thing is that you actually are. Content creation is a job for a machine. We’re all much more than that. Let’s not go willingly into the corporate capitalist nightmare by even surrendering to its impersonal vocabulary.

Words matter.