Elliot is a lifelong student of philosophy with an annoying dependence on sarcastic humor to help him get through the day.
The World Demands Consumers
But...that isn't necessarily a bad thing. With the exponentially increasing amount of media, knowledge, and tools available in the world it is easy to become a life-long consumer of the work of other people. And while this may sound like a negative trait for the majority who fall into its realm, I think the ability to choose to focus your life on enjoying other people's creations is a boon. Obviously, there are countless examples of consumption taken to a harmful level in the case of addiction, dependence (both physiological and intellectual), and distorted worldviews. Without people to revel in and enjoy the work of the creators there would be no creators at all. Being a consumer is not a state of lacking or less-than, but being a creator is a state of gaining and growth.
Transitioning to A Creator Is Hard
I know from first-hand experience how hard it can sometimes be to steer oneself from the mode of being a consumer to a creator. I still struggle every day and every week with trying to pull myself away from the enjoyments and distractions which have been the core of my life for the past 21 years. I have developed a sort of addiction to gaming, technology, and media. I am completely aware of this light addiction, which is partly what prompts me to work harder at being a creator first and a consumer second.
For me, and it is the same for countless others I presume, one of the biggest challenges with trying to be a creator is the absence of gratification or obvious success. No matter what form your work takes when it first begins it will most likely be unsuccessful, unrecognized, and uninspiring. Coming from a daily experience of always being able to get what I am after as soon as I want it, the prospect of having to work and practice something with little reward or obvious progress is demoralizing. Even though I recognize the nature of being a creator, namely that the reward comes through effort, I still find myself constantly in conflict with myself.
This conflict between what you want and what you want to do is a lethal killer of the transitioning consumer. Even as I sit and write these words at this very moment, half of my mind is frustrated and bored. It wants simply to drop this admittedly already small task and go back to consuming video games or Netflix. I know in the other half of my mind that if I did that I would only feel sad and disappointed, but this self-realization is not enough to dissipate those internal conflicts.
This, for me, is the first and biggest hurdle to becoming a creator and offering something valuable to the world instead of only taking what it offered. It is a step that few people can truly break through. I myself have not even managed to break through it, not by a long shot.
Why Be A Creator?
This is a simple question, which contains some very deep and conflicting philosophical ideas. For instance, one who was traditional of the existentialist mindset might say that the effort of being a creator is futile. In the grand scheme of our existence, whatever we offer to the word will ultimately be of little consequence and only serve to bring unnecessary struggle into our lives. This is a perfectly valid response to the question. Why bring the struggle and potential failure of creation into our lives when we have the option to always choose things that bring us joy or pleasure at the moment we want them?
One could respond to the existentialist that the potential pride and pleasure produced by our works is far deeper and greater than the novelty afforded by simple consumption. This is a perspective I could certainly get behind, but it is not the one I would like to take.
I would personally hold the opinion that there is an intrinsic value in producing something from a creativity and ability unique to oneself. Many people may be great artists, so it is easy to say there is no reason for me to go through the effort of being another one among many. However, the number of existing artists is irrelevant because none of them are you. What greater pride could there be than in lifting yourself into the ranks of those whom you previously admired and enjoyed? There are many writers in the world, more than there have ever been before, but none of them have told your story. If you are pulled towards the art of writing, then there is something that only you can offer to the art.
Being a creator is in many ways the epitome of individuality. If you steer your creativity so that you reach monetary success then that is great. If you try to reach monetary success but fall short then that too is great. If you push yourself to be more than you currently are, to create something, then there is a chance the world will remember you. If you never try, however, then it is certain the world will not. There is no shame in being a consumer, but there is great pride in being a creator.