Create More, Consume Less
in search for lasting fulfillment

I've been on a minimalist kick for what seems like a few years now. Inherently, I'm not much of a person who buys too many things anyway. I buy pretty expensive tools once every few years, but that's about it. And as I invested more time living a more minimalistic life, I realize that it's kind of spilling over to other things as well, mainly in my perception of content creation and content consumption.

Consumption Overload

A few years ago, I used to consume boatloads of media. Video games, videos, TV shows, and just recently books. Me investing 400-500 hours in a single game wasn't a rare occurence, with my greatest time investment in a game clocking at around ~2000 hours or so. That's just way too much, in hindsight.

The thing that I found as I got older is that consumption doesn't really give me as much fulfillment as it did back in the day. A vital flaw with consumption in terms of media is that they have a finite lifespan. Book series will inevitably end, video games get rather stale, and movie/TV series are either going to end properly or they'll milk it to the point where it becomes terrible. And with this comes the loop of finding new content to consume, digesting it all, and then repeating the process over and over again. It's a never-ending treadmill of seeking, consuming, and repeat.

Repetitiveness and Replication

Despite the fact that I'm still quite young, all of this media that's being pumped out has gotten very, very repetitive. Anime and manga were the first real pieces of media that I consumed when I grew up, and I've watched so many different series to the point where the entire story arc of an anime is obvious just from watching the first 3-4 episodes. It all gets very predictable. Same thing can go with non-fiction if you stick to a certain genre. I was on a self-help kick for a while, and what I found out is that when I read the small minority of the really good books, I've practically read them all. Consume enough similar types of media, and you realize that a lot of them are rehashes of each other, or more accurately, rehashes of the few things which worked.

I mean, look at how new companies and content is created these days. Someone reaches a breakthrough and starts creating an entirely new genre of content, or a type of application never seen before, and people go nuts. It gains a lot of traction very quickly, and because of this what do other creators/companies do? Follow suit, obviously. That's why there are like 300 different food delivery apps nowadays, and why a lot of the content these days gets very, very repetitive: they know it worked for someone else, so they'll just replicate what works.

Shifting Focus

Content is largely bounded by what's accepted by the masses. As creators try to monetize their work (because they need money too), it all kind of starts converging towards this magic formula/template which "works". It gets people's attention, and it's familiar enough that people can at least understand it and put it into context, but it has enough things switched around that it can be classified as something "different". But really, looking underneath the veil, a lot of the content is very similar to each other. Cookie cutter content is a lot of what we get nowadays, and it all has kind of lost its lustre.

As a result from all of this, I realized that creation is where the most fulfillment comes from. To create something with your own hands is a feeling which cannot be replicated elsewhere. And the greatest part of it is that it's practically limitless. That is the amazing thing about creativity: there are literally no bounds to it.

Because of this mini-revelation of sorts, I've adopted this philosophy of "create more, consume less" as a way to counterbalance all of this consumption. Consumption on its own isn't bad, but doing it too much is unhealthy. Consumption based hobbies like watching videos, games, books, and things of that sort aren't terrible necessarily. I still do these activities every once in a while, but what I realized for myself is that only doing these things doesn't make for a fulfilling life. I'll always be dependent on someone else's creations keeping me entertained or occupied, and because of that, I'll always be searching for the next thing which can satiate this want for stimulation, as opposed to settling for an already amazing source of stimulation: our creativity.

This is why for the past few months I've been trying to do more creative hobbies like drawing and writing. It's a very good feeling to create something, and then sharing it with others. The thing with me also is that I prefer investing my time in very few things. If I could invest my time into a single video game forever, I would, but of course I'd lose interest eventually. This is probably why for me, doing a lifetime hobby such as writing and drawing is so much more fulfilling, because the activity will continue to grow with me as I invest more time into it. Creative hobbies are not transient. They can last a lifetime if one wants to invest into them, which in turn makes them hold much more value in the long-term compared to hobbies revolving around consumption.

Feeling Disconnected

There is this one thing that does kind of bear down on my mind somewhat: in a consumption-based world, it's hard to relate to anyone when you barely consume anything.

The friendships which fostered through similar consumatory interests have now been strained because the things which strung us together has now become nonexistent. A lot of my friends were gaming buddies, so we used to play multiplayer games all of the time. But now, since I've stopped playing multiplayer games entirely, it's hard not to ask the question "why are we even still friends, if the thing which brought us together isn't even present anymore?" It's hard to talk about anything, because they would talk about the games that they've been playing, the movies that they've been watching, and meanwhile all I have to really say for myself is that I've read some books and painted some pieces. And 99% of the time I'm not really willing to share that information because they're likely to not take interest at all, so I just keep my mouth shut.

This same thing goes for typical interactions with acquaintances or strangers. People would sometimes ask me "have you seen the movie X?" or "did you know what happened to celebrity Y?", and I'd be entirely clueless. Because they can't relate to me in any sort of way, relationships just fail to launch right from the get-go, which I find rather amusing. It's interesting that people sometimes relate with each other with regards to what they consume as opposed to what they do. And since I don't really consume any sort of pop culture or anything, trying to find a connection in that regard is very difficult. I'm very much in my own bubble of heavily curated sources of media, so it's quite hard to relate to other people in general.

Finding a Balance

I believe that consumption is still vitally important, but my perceptions on how to consume said media has changed over time. I try to keep consuming for the sake of consumption to a minimum. Entertainment can very much fall into the line of "consuming for the sake of consuming". It's good once in a while to relieve tension, similar to how eating a dessert can be good to cheer you up. But is it good for the long-term to eat dessert with every single meal? I don't think so.

Consumption which falls in line with other creative activities is also good, but we can sometimes trick ourselves into thinking that consuming these types of media is a replacement to creating something with said information. I recall one time consuming a bunch of art tutorials, self-help videos, and things of that nature. It felt like I was being productive, only for me to realize that what I had learned didn't amount to anything because I didn't apply it to anything. Edutainment is good in that it's educational, but watching it for the sake of watching just reduces it to entertainment.

All in all, it's always about finding a balance. Since I'm a person who is very impulsive and would hyperfixate on something for a long period of time, I found that too much of a good thing isn't always a good thing. I've destroyed myself on plenty of occasions because I overinvested in something that I thought was "good", sacrificing some other vital part of my being as a result (health being a great example), and now what was "good" is no longer good because it has become a danger to my wellbeing, or it threatens some other aspect of my life.

To "create more, consume less", not "only create, stop consuming". That's something that I need to remind myself each and every single day.

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