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!