There is a thing that happens to a person’s brain when they begin really putting their creative efforts into online work, be it game streaming or podcasting or vlogging or whatever. Suddenly, you no longer have a life. Instead, everything is potential content.
Not that this is a new phenomenon. Artists have always mined their lives for inspiration. The difference, in my opinion, is how ever-present and often intrusive this urge is.
(Also, hey! Hi! Hello! It’s been a while, yeah? I’m still breathing.)
I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember. Tucked away in a dusty box in a forgotten corner of my mom’s house are pages and pages of fiction in five-year-old me’s handwriting. So I am fully aware of the way writing draws from life. In the last few years, however, I’ve noticed that “oh, this could be content” flag has been turned up to 11. Which is a metaphor that doesn’t make sense, but let’s just roll with it.
While trying to get to sleep a few nights back, my brain was doing the typical anxiety deal of “let’s revisit all your past mistakes.” Me being me, I began mentally listing out the different categories those fell into. Then, for shits and giggles, I started imagining that list in the style of a late-night ad shilling some collection nobody really wants.
The complete set includes The Ways I Was Awful In Elementary School through How I Acted Like A Dumbass At My Friends’ Wedding. Act now and we’ll throw in Look! A Drunk Asshole and Statements That I Thought Were Innocuous But Others Interpreted As Horrible totally free! The next 100 orders will also receive a complimentary copy of Feeling Like Potential Humiliation Has Already Come To Pass.
Naturally, I began composing the tweets I would use to talk about this, because what use is late-night anxiety if not for content on Twitter? This was not the first time I’d realized that urge within myself, of course. Not even close. But sometimes I stop and marvel at how successful the engines of capitalism have been at grinding us down into finer and finer particles.
For what is that push to make every moment Content-with-a-capital-‘c’ if not the ever-present need to hustle? Turning a creative endeavor into a paying creative endeavor requires countless hours of work. Brand building, marketing, networking – all of it pushes that Life is Content line. And still there is a large dose of luck involved, of both the “right place, right time” variety as well as the “who you know” type. The highly successful few are out there as hypervisible examples of What Could Be, and even knowing it’s virtually impossible to get there doesn’t mean the effort can stop.
As for me, well, I am obviously very bad at The Hustle while not being remotely immune. I mean, I haven’t posted here in what? Almost five months? And then it was a memorial for my dog. Case in point.
I don’t have any grand ideas about change or how to fix things or any of that. Just a thought about how everything is potential content that I’ve turned into fucking content. The world turns, the machine churns, and we are all fodder for the Content Farm.
Categories: the process
Stormy Lane McKnight
Writer of trashy queer superhero romance, smutty sci-fi, and other things that are gay af. Disaster enby and all around bisexual wrecking ball.