I have come to reevaluate some things. Some things about myself, some things about the modern world at large.
I have been wanting to watch Game of Thrones for a while now, simply because so many people have taken to it and I have only ever watched the first episode (which I then quickly dismissed due to a very limited attention span). So last night I watched the first episode in whole with two of my friends. And then today I watched another.
Those episodes are fucking long, and I mean long. Not 30 minutes, not 50 minutes, but over an hour. And I have to admit I enjoyed it, but as I grew more and more interested in the series, a part of me did not want to keep watching.
So why was I?
Later in the day I took a stroll as the very sporadic Swedish sun set, and I recognized how much television we watch. How many apps we open and close. How many things we read and follow, either from a small interest or the matter of simply distracting ourselves.
We consume so much. And rarely do we produce.
When is the last time you, or I, attempted to sit down and write story? When is the last time we thought of a television pitch, and sketched it out? When is the last time we dibble-dabbled to create our own recipe, rather than use someone else’s. When is the last time we created anything of our own, engaging our creative capacities and ability to imagine rather than absorbing the brilliant creations of someone else?
I am not saying that consumption is bad, it is essential to our well-being and to the production of creative projects themselves. But I fear that our modern society may be focusing too much on consumption, and we may be ultimately hindering our own abilities to produce things of our own.
And please, spare the thoughts of inadequacy or claims of necessary “de-stress” time.
It is true, watching a great television series or absorbing yourself in a movie is one of the many miraculous experiences we are lucky to have access to. It helps pass the time, helps wind us down, and gives us something to do. But so does the other end of that same experience. Painting, writing, sketching, creating. All of these things can serve as de-stressors, as a chance to get away from yourself or your surroundings. An opportunity to become engrossed in a creative flow that is 100% your own.
The problem is that we overthink the process itself. Take writing a book for example. We believe it is too difficult of a feat because we are not professional authors. We don’t have the time to sit down for an entire month and write out a story, let alone a masterpiece of a novel. But who the hell does? Professional authors were not professional authors from birth, just as you are not a professional whatever-the-hell-you-do until you started doing it. And stories are never written all at once. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter if you write a brilliant money-making novel or a short children’s story. What matters it that it is yours, you spent time on it, you devoted your abilities to it, and you are proud of it. When you think about it, we have a unique opportunity as individuals who are not professional writers, painters, and so forth. In that, we can write a shitty story and still survive. We can choose however the hell long we want to start something and finish it. Write half-a-page of a story whenever the inspiration comes to you, finish a book in 20 years. What’s wrong with that?
My point is that, in my sole opinion, we should start producing as well as consuming. Producing outside of our careers that is, in creative attempts to express ourselves and learn more about the people we are.
Because although watching hundreds to thousands of hours of a television series may be able to teach you some aspect of something, rarely does it teach you anything about yourself (I say rare to acknowledge the television shows that do manage to have that effect). But writing a story? Painting a picture? Conveying what you believe, what is important to you, and how you see the world onto something tangible?
That is humanity. That is art.