Finding Quality in Quantity

February 17, 2017
Posted in Opinion
February 17, 2017 Josh Carter

Finding Quality in Quantity

I’m very fortunate to be able to write as much as I’m able. It isn’t always easy given that marriage, children and a full-time job are often the things which have to be worked around to get that coveted bit of quiet solitude required to formulate cohesive ideas.

In our fast-paced, rarely disconnected world, things like silence and stillness are as common as a civil political discourse which, if you pay attention to the political sphere today, should tell you that they’re the exception and certainly not the norm. My good friend Tim asked me to write pieces for his website, his goal is to create a media company, and he’s done a damn fine job building it thus far despite the enormous pressures which go with the territory.

Every single day we’re inundated with pure information. Some is factual, most is fluff. Anyone can have a website these days, and anyone with two brain cells to rub together can put content out into that massive expanse which encompasses the world, the Internet. Companies live and die by the content creation model which seeks to garner vast numbers hits, likes, shares and comments, all of which is done in the pursuit of staying at the “top spot” in the search engines. It’s a mimicry of the naturally human desire to remain “relevant” in an increasingly isolated, individualistic society.

If you haven’t read it, I’d highly recommend the book Alone Together, by social psychologist Sherry Turkle, which is a culmination of a three decade long study on the advent, renaissance, and the darker side of interactive technologies and social networks. In an age of identity building and experimentation through social media sites and their corresponding, real life effects on our psychological state it’s safe to say that you and I are invested in our convenient technologies. In fact, a 2016 Pew Research Poll found that while most adults 50 years of age and older are still receiving their news from traditional mediums (i.e. local T.V., radio, Networks and newspapers), those in the 18-29 year old range are receiving their information predominantly from the internet, apps and social media sites. It’s probable that the next generation will be even further immersed in digital news given the trend and new technologies rapidly becoming available.

So content creation is a kind of a big deal in the current marketplace for news and the transmission of ideas.

I often wonder as a podcaster, who desires to create a quality product for others to consume, if I will fall into the trap of creating for the sake of creating and not for the sake of putting forth something of substance. Am I writing this because I truly have something to say, something to share with others that is important? Or am I doing this simply to add more words to the massive swirling vortex of content that already exists, hoping all the while that my content will shuffle its way to the top? It is my wish, and hope, that when I write, when I record, when I create in general, that I won’t being doing so simply to create more noise in an already noisy culture.

Many of my fellow millennials have witnessed the detrimental nature of the 24-hour news cycle and our constant attachment to social media. Look around you and witness the baggage these things have dumped on our generation as a whole. We see it daily in our politics, we see it in the devolution of our humor and the commoditization of our relationships. I’ll never forget taking my daughter to dance one day, and looking around the waiting room at all the parents immersed in their phones. Many had other children with them who were either on tablets or trying to get their parents to look at, and engage with them. I remember feeling the itch to check my own notifications, or just to mindlessly scroll through my personal feed. The compelling need to see if I had missed out…on what?

Most of what I see in my feed on a daily basis is garbage. It’s clickbait, or food clips that suck away minutes of my life. It’s politically charged, factually inaccurate talking points by select talking heads who most resonate with my personal worldview. It’s someone getting on and live streaming their opinion about some current event, trying to go viral, yet not truly saying anything in the process.

When I began to create content all these questions that lurked beneath the surface came to the fore. When I listen to podcasts I hope to walk away having learned something, or feeling fulfilled in some way. When I read an article I don’t want to read an author taking cheap shots at those they disagree with but, rather, I hope to read something of substance that raises profound questions, offers profound insight, or a combination of both. The YouTube content creators I personally follow have changed from the purely entertaining, to a mix of entertaining and informative, because at the end of the day I am looking for compelling arguments and world views to offer the world on my own social spaces. I want to be respectful of other people’s time as they peruse the net. I want to offer something they’ll be glad they read and, hopefully, that they’ll share with others because it was impactful in some way. If someone listens to my podcast, it’s my hope that they’ll feel that it was time well-spent.

There are many things you and I can do to change the culture we find ourselves in today. The hyper-partisan, us-versus-them mentality culture that we’ve been given, isn’t the culture we have to adopt for ourselves. The impulsive consumption and regurgitation of information that isn’t substantial doesn’t have to be our world of content creation. I don’t want to create effective clickbait. I want to say something real and authentic. It’s my desire for people to muse and reflect, and if I can do that then I’d consider that quality work in a quantity world.

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