Meaningful content in the attention economy

I’m sick of reading misleading titles with catchy thumbnails that use bold fonts that have nothing to do with the content except for the sole purpose of catching your attention so you click on it. We live in a world where people spend more time trying to be heard rather than focusing on what to say. Do you really think that meaningful content is manifested just to get more likes? Great work comes from the soul, from a place of meaning, purpose, a personal story, a creative exploration into one’s self.

With photography these days I feel there are a lot of cookie cut photographers and images out there, the default landmarks have become a haven to social media posts. As they should because they are beautiful places, but that’s about it, just surface level aesthetics. A pretty picture, void meaning or merely to just start a conversation.

There is nothing wrong with taking pretty pictures of holidays, family, friends, moments, wonderful views. But I wouldn’t consider this meaningful work beyond the self. Once an image goes beyond yourself and connects to complete stranger, making them contemplate, that is when I believe your work carries meaning. I personally don’t think I’m quite there yet with my own work, but we can all try. We can all think and ask these simple questions before pressing the shutter button to steer us in the right direction when it comes to purpose. Why am I taking this photograph? What is its function? what am I trying to say? Who’s story am I conveying?

“Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism.” – Neil Postman. I believe that world is the internet.

We have been living in an attention economy since the radio. Our attention is a valuable commodity to companies and individuals. When you pick up your phone your paying attention to that object more than your surroundings, neglecting the person next to you and the world around you. You have subconsciously decided to pay attention to something else. To amuse yourself in media as a form of entertainment. Hopefully what your paying attention to, has brought meaning to your life, and that you will forever remember that moment, that article, that photograph. Because if you can’t even remember what you were reading about yesterday, then the days gone by aren’t even a memory, it’s voluntary amnesia.

“Ask what makes you come alive and go do it.” – Howard W Thurman

I leave you with this, how you spend your days is how you spend your life. And we all have one life… if that. So spend your life, creating and consuming meaningful work. Work that moves you and makes you think, makes you appreciate the world and the people around you.

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