Over the weekend, we stayed with my parents. For my toddler, they brought out some of the toys they had kept from when I was still a baby.
One of the hits was a wooden toy train set which must now be over 40 years old.
And my child loved it (although there were significantly more “accidents” than I remember being responsible for).
That made me think about how some things are built to last, while others are built to be consumed and then thrown away. Or in some cases, designed to break down earlier than they need to so that people are forced to buy replacements more often.
You might think about examples like fast fashion, which often begins to fall apart after being washed a few times, but that is now what people design or buy it for.
Use it a few times, then the next season is in and it is time to buy the next things.
However, this does not just apply to physical objects.
Too many of our ideas, and even our creative output, is now designed to be consumed and then immediately forgotten.
The worst example of this I believe is short-form content, like what appears on Instagram or Tiktok.
Little images or videos specifically designed to be so short that they trigger a dopamine release within a few seconds, and then the consumer moves on to the next piece of content.
But is this what we should be using our creativity to produce?
If we aim to produce something specifically to be consumed instantly and then forgotten, we don’t use those same creative skills to produce something which can stand the test of time or create a deeper emotional impact.
There is a reason why novels are thousands of words long, why music albums have multiple songs or why films last an hour or more.
It takes time to set up characters, story and conflicts which people can feel invested in.
Art which can be consumed multiple times, for hours on end. And which can result in different reactions each time the same person consumes it.
And it takes much more time behind the scenes to produce, iterate and refine the ideas to become these stories.
Yet we are pushing a generation of creators to produce content for a set of algorithms, rather than encouraging them to produce work at a deeper level.
There is space for short-form content in this world.
But if you want to be creative, do not forget to invest the time and effort into producing things which will still resonate after you are gone.
Latest posts by Nick Skillicorn (see all)
- Made to last - November 21, 2023
- We could all benefit from more failures - November 15, 2023
- Self-Serving bias: Why you think nothing is your fault - August 9, 2023
- We are all sheep - August 2, 2023