Instagram Killed the Radio Star

Before Facebook and Vine and SnapChat and Instagram, before Periscope and YouTube and the iPhone, it was the 90’s. If you wanted to make a video, you had to borrow Dad’s camcorder, which probably still recorded on VHS. If you wanted to publish an article or short story, you had to send it away to actual magazines, or worse, submit it to the school paper.

Before this goes any further, this is not what it looks like. This is not a millennial’s self-hating rant on technology. I love my Instagram as much as the next girl. My issue is with what technology is doing to creativity. “You’re so creative” has become equal to “dude, you’re a genius.” There is no value in it. It means nothing. Why?

Because when everyone’s creative. No one is.

I’m not trying to go all “Hero’s Journey” on everyone here. We’re creatives, we’re not saving lives, but this new technology, the rise of social media and exhibitionism has made it so everyone has a platform to publish their work. Everyone. Celebrity Bloggers are called writers, Instagram stars are called photographers, the Kardashians are called Talented. (Okay I made that last one up, but you get the idea.) Anyone who has an idea is allowed to create it, to put labels on themselves and others, to adjust and filter and auto-tune the world around them and is that not creativity which in turn stifles creativity? To make something mediocre in a way and on a platform that forces people to praise you for it just because you were brave enough to “put it out there” it’s just-

Okay, this is starting to sound a bit ranterrific, even for me. So let me just say this: This influx of so-called creativity, this generation of DIY filmmakers and Pintrest Decorators, has produced a wide and endless sea of, I’ll say it, creativity. This is essentially a good thing. Self-expression and whatnot. The problem becomes finding your way through the chaos without drowning. When everyone is screaming “Look how creative I am!” sometimes it’s best to remain silent. Maybe the best way to get noticed as a creative is to be well, not. Take up work at a sawmill. Learn to be a butcher. Make your own candles (but only for functional purposes).

Then again, we could also just try to be more honest with each other. Just because someone posts a sunset on Instagram doesn’t mean we have to praise their point and click skills. And just because someone writes a few words on a blog doesn’t mean we have to tell her she’s skilled in prose. But I mean… you could? Just like, if you really meant it.

Peace, Love & the Rise of Mediocrity. <- Okay, that was self-hating millennial speak.

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One thought on “Instagram Killed the Radio Star

  1. And to put a generational spin to this idea…

    Back in the day, before (dare I say it) computers w/ photoshop et. al., we in the creativity business communicated our ideas with words and sketches with penciled (or, progressively, rub-down type!) headlines and the like. There was much discussion about the idea, because there wasn’t much else to debate; can’t get too bent out of shape about the size of the client’s logo when it’s just a few hastily rendered eliptical swirls down in the corner. “This is your logo,” the art director would necessarily state. To which the client would nod solemnly.

    Then came the technology, and pretty soon beautiful, all-but-finished ads were trotted out on rails around the country, many without an idea in the same zip code. But, they were sooooo pretty! Look at the shine! Is that a drop shadow?!

    Do not be fooled. Brush away the fairy dust and get to the essence of the creative idea. Or not.

    And you really are skilled in prose.

    xo

    Like

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