I Hate the Word Content
Man do I hate the word content. I don’t know about you, but it really grinds my gears. You’ve probably noticed over about the past decade or so, maybe longer, that collectively we’ve been referring to any form of written or video work as content. My own current job title is “content specialist”.
All over marketing, media, entertainment, and social media, the goal is to create content. More content. Better content. Viral content. Content. Content. Content. Artists seem to now no longer be called artists but rather content creators. Blugh.
And I’m far from the only writer/blogger who hates this term.
The reason I hate terms like content, content creator, and content marketing is because it tells you nothing about what is actually being produced, and, at least in my opinion, it implies that any created and/or made thing will do.
If you’ve read my post about why I quit social media, then you’ll have read that one of the reasons I did so was to curb my own increasing and unhealthy hubris. Social media accounts, because they are so addictive in nature, somehow trick you into thinking that anything and everything you have to say is important and you should post or tweet about it immediately to add your opinion to the noise.
Content for the sake of content is the same thing. Just putting something out there for the sake of putting something out there and adding to the noise doesn’t actually do anything for anyone. The term is so vague and empty of meaning. And if you’re focused on “creating content”, you’re not necessarily focused on why you want to make that thing and what value it can provide to people. It seems to put quantity over quality.
Content could be anything. It could mean a blog post like this one, a YouTube video about bees, a sci-fi movie, a sitcom, a long form investigative article, a thought leadership piece from a company to increase brand awareness, etc. Notice how these terms actually say what is being produced. Content, on the other hand, says nothing.
“I’m going to make content!”
Okay. What exactly are you making and why? What’s the purpose?
Saying you’re a content creator is like saying you’re a food maker. It asks more questions than it answers. Are you a chef? An amateur cook at home? A food stylist for advertisements? A farmer? A fast food employee? What are you talking about?
Content is a vague term (the contents of a box doesn’t tell you what’s in the box) that means nothing when applied to created works.
If you’re a novelist say you’re a novelist.
If you’re a painter say you’re a painter.
If you’re a marketer at a company, say you’re a marketer.
If you’re a cultural commentator on YouTube, say you’re a cultural commentator on YouTube.
Say your worth!
Put your stake in the ground!
In the same vein, saying you create content, at least to me, implies that your audience is a mindless group of consumers, and it doesn’t matter what you make as long as they have something to do other than sit quietly with their own thoughts.
It reminds me of Brave New World or Fahrenheit 451, in which the characters always have some distraction rather than simply sitting and reflecting or reading. Just mindlessly consuming content, always needing some external input or stimuli. Never just sitting and being.
The term content short changes both the creator and the viewer.
And I don’t like it.
Okay, rant over. And no, it’s not lost on me that this blog post could also be viewed simply as content, and that I’m still putting my thoughts out there even though I’m not on social media. But I do think there’s a difference between adding to the noise of a news feed and someone finding or seeking out my blog specifically.
Anyhoo, those are my thoughts! If you feel so inclined, let me know if you agree or disagree!
April 30, 2022 @ 11:40 am
I hate that term too. I am actively fighting against it.
To me, “content” is cheap filler garbage, like TikTok videos or the endless-scrolling nonsense of Twitter and Reddit.
More and more and more “content”, nom nom nom.
I would never refer the photographs of Erwin Blumenfeld as “content”, nor would I call the Lord of the Rings trilogy “content”.
“Hey, what did you do last weekend?”
“Oh, I watched content on my content display and the content was great. The audio content was nice, too, so the whole content was great”. Who would talk like that?
People (or companies) using “content” provide low-quality garbage. They are unsure of it. They don’t call it “movie” or “blockbuster” or “fantastic song”, it’s just “content”. Because they know it’s rubbish. And that is what people want nowadays: Rubbish, but lots of it.
I have no social media and I actually enjoy my movies and music on my hard disk. I have no Netflix or Disney+ or Spotify either. Why? Because I have high-quality music and movies locally saved. And I prefer my 260 movies over 10,000+ of “content” on Netflix and Co.
April 30, 2022 @ 12:34 pm
Thanks so much for your comment, Biff. I couldn’t agree more! It drives me nuts! I’m the same – no social media up until some years ago when I realized I had to stop or get sucked (even more) into the mindless, endless scrolling of ‘content’ that mostly was just the equivalent of junk food. ‘Content’ has nothing on a well-made movie, book, or, as you mentioned, artwork/photograph. I hope this term will soon find its end, but I’m not so sure. Your example above reads like it could be out of a dystopian sci-fi novel, and some of those, unfortunately, have a track record of coming true!
May 2, 2022 @ 2:37 am
This is some good content.
May 2, 2022 @ 9:06 am
😛 Thank you! I hope it’s also a good blog post! 😀