How did we become passive consumers and not creators?

by Annelise Mitchell December 13, 2016

How did we become passive consumers and not creators?

It didn’t happen overnight, but slowly, over a matter of a few decades, we signed our life away to television companies and employers.

These were the television companies that were supported by ad revenue. If a program didn’t make money, we didn’t watch it. If a program didn’t put bums in seats, the ad sponsors didn’t pay. These sponsors were huge by the way: meat and milk companies, tobacco companies, and other massive entities known as corporations. The little guys simply couldn’t enter this arena.

The television shows and films weren’t dedicated to informing you about the best way to live, let alone that being a creator is absolutely critical for sustaining your existence. No, they were concerned about profit, and as soon as profit becomes the modus operandi, ethics, mission statements, and sheer humanity get thrown out of the window.

Are television companies sinister?

No, they are subject to the whims of television executives, sponsors and those who pull the purse strings. Us. The viewers who they seek to entertain. Their focus is entertainment, not education. If they didn’t entertain, we didn’t watch.

Our jobs too made us passive.

Trading in a life of uncertainty as artisans and farmers, we headed off to the city looking for certainty, comfort and someone to care for us. The promise of a steady pay check encouraged us to trade our imagination for white goods and shiny objects that we more often than not, didn’t need. We soon found ourselves in a cubicle or factory, feeling dead inside but unable to point out why.

Like Seth Godin’s wily fox, we are slowly trapped by a life that promises security and certainty. All the while not realising that we have traded in our imagination for the promise of consistent food and shelter.

Seth Godin's The Wily Fox by Life-changing Learning

The first box reveals the farmer or artisan at the beginning of the industrial revolution, where there was a promise of easy money. The fox is attracted to the easy catch, and returns time and time again. Over time, as the industrial complex develops, the fence palings go up and the fox doesn’t notice. He is getting his immediate needs met through the food and doesn’t realise that when the industrial system is in full swing, he can’t leave. He is literally stuck as the system has become too big and the barriers to entry, too large.

Now that the fence has lifted, the fox stays there anyway. This is what has happened to us. The fence palings have disappeared with the advent of the Internet, but most of us still behave as though the fences are still there. We have metaphorical fences that keep us doing the same thing and not things of our choosing.

This is the consequence of relying on television for our source of information and on employers to provide us with income. We become passive consumers who lack the knowledge and skills to create our own enterprises.

As soon as we lack the skills to create our own lives and understand how the world around us is shaping our behaviour, we are in deep trouble. We may never learn that it is this powerlessness and lack of creating our own things that is causing our pain – we blame our pain on external or internal factors. The former being family, friends or society, and the latter being our own weaknesses or vices.

Worst of all, we succumb to all sorts of behaviours to cope with the pain. We use food, alcohol, drugs, shopping, sex, or any other distraction you can think of to numb ourselves, even if only for a moment.

What creators realise is that when they begin creating, they gather momentum, the wheels start turning and they develop a momentum of their own. Once you start, and you have a clear idea of what you are going to create, you won’t be able to stop. You will be like a freight train with a clear destination, and all the fuel in the world to get you there.

You understand that learning all you need to know about your field is on your shoulders, but you have become responsible for your own life. Bring it on!

But when you think you know enough and that education is all about just getting a job and finding security, you are not in a world of your own making. You are where the industrialists want you to be – consuming their goods and not thinking about making your own stuff.

This is old world thinking, a spectre of the past that no longer has to be.

The Internet has removed the traditional barriers that held previous generations. We are no longer trapped or confined by employers and we are no longer limited to the information provided by major television companies. We can now tune into YouTube or podcasters who are sharing their content with us and paving the way.

What is even better is we can be content creators too. We can create our own channel, podcast, website, online shop and share what we’ve created with the world. We have access to all the tools. We just need to create.

The question you must answer, is do you want to leave behind the certainty of television and employers to become a creator? The answer is obvious, of course you do, to do otherwise would mean that you didn’t read this article.

And if you read this article and still choose not to create, at least you know why.

Annelise Mitchell
Annelise Mitchell


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