This is probably going to end up being more of a “random musings” type of post, but I wanted to get these thoughts out of my system. As I was perpetuating the mindlessly scrolling culture of social media yesterday, I ran across an interesting article. Apparently the Joe Rogan podcast will be moving exclusively to Spotify. Now, I am not a HUGE fan of this dude, but I’ve found several of his guests to be interesting. But more importantly, this got me thinking about the creative industry online as a whole, specifically podcasting and blogging.
I started blogging when I was around 13. The online world was different back then—a little less monetized and systemic, and definitely more genuine. There was more of a focus on the individual experience, and that was expressed in the variety of creative mediums available. That technically still exists today, but the underlying reality is different. Everything has become more focused and tailored. The algorithm rules now, and content is being crafted to cater to that. Once-independent productions are now being enticed by platform exclusivity, thus selling their soul and freedom.
Something was lost as the internet matured. I remember when I first started out writing and being inspired by the plethora of unique and interesting blogs on the net. Chronicles of people’s lives, their ideas, their adventures, all recorded for the simple act of expression instead of financial gain. While everyone is on lockdown, I think the changes of online culture are easier to perceive. With more spaces of time to pass, we naturally gravitate toward the endless streams of media on our devices for entertainment.
So much of that media has been distilled into bite-sized snippets of instant gratification. The cynic in me recognizes it as a dopamine market, preying on the baser and easily manipulated nature of people. The encroachment of greed has touched many previous bastions of creative freedom. YouTube is an especially poignant example. While one could point out that the vast increase in online content is good for consumers, I disagree when most of it has been cheapened in the process. Authenticity is what I feel missing today. The catering to social trends and algorithms in order to simply reach more viewers has left a valuable part of the human experience in the dust.
There is a fundamental unhealthiness underlying the online economy and greater culture, and even a serious risk to the wellbeing of consumers. Not to mention the fact that data harvesting by big companies is a legitimate concern for privacy and anonymity. I can only hope that small time creators can continue to find the will to persist amidst the eternally encroaching greed that follows mass consumption. The near future is worrisome to me, but the impermanence of any system or paradigm provides hope that things will eventually change.