A question turned into a tangent turned into a fuming rant about the types of content we find in media
Content is a word that gets thrown around like crazy, and over time has developed a million different meanings and interpretations. Good vs. bad content, content creation, the concept of certain experiences as content.
A friend of mine is one of those people where random sh*t just happens to her all the time. When I first met her, I immediately noted how one of the most fascinating and intriguing things about her is all the arbitrary and incredibly entertaining stories she has to tell, and above all, what a fantastic storyteller she is. She would recount times when strangers on the street would engage with her in funny ways, interesting people she has met, fun things that she has seen – it felt like I could just sit there and listen to her tell her stories for hours and never get bored. A joke started between our little friend group that despite all this weird sh*t happening to her, it makes for good content. She’ll go out and try new things even if it’s scary, because no matter the outcome, it will make for good content, which she could then share with others as a means of connecting with them. And so when reflecting on this week’s discussion, a defining question hit me.
Storytelling. Is that all that content is?
If you put it in the context of that friend, anytime she tells her stories, we are consuming her “content”, the same way we would consume any sort of traditional content found in media. About a week ago, I was retelling the events of a detailed and complicated dream I had to a friend, and when I got to “and bam, I woke up”, he just goes “Holy shit. Well that was some great storytelling on your part,” to which I realize that even our f**king dreams can be content if you paint it out that way. We can’t escape it!
Building off that, this train of thought of content as storytelling leads me to one of the readings from this week, “What Football Will Look Like in the Future” or else known as Jon Bois’ 17776. A friend shared the link to this piece with me months ago, and when I first opened it and realized it was something significantly more profound and stimulating than what it appeared to be, I knew it wasn’t something I wanted to mindlessly scroll through. I told myself I would check it out later, when I had the time to thoughtfully take it in. Inevitably, I completely forgot about it. The same friend is in PUB101, and when he told me it was one of the readings, I immediately knew I was going to hop on it for this week’s discussion.
Jon Bois’ 17776 is described as a “multimedia narrative” and uses some irregular and nonconformist methods to tell a gripping and entertaining story. To produce content. The format and distinctive storytelling of this piece is exactly what makes it unique. To have this story written out as a book, in a picture or just on a plain webpage would take away its impact, arguably altering the nature and objective of the content as a whole. It’s not like anything I’ve really seen before, and while I haven’t made it all the way through, it’s definitely some of the more interesting and stimulating content I have come across in my years of consuming.
I’m going to be honest, 90% of the time I’m too wrapped up in my own secluded little bubble of mainstream content that I rather infrequently come across unique stuff that is actually entertaining and not mind numbing. 100% of the reason why I deleted Tiktok a day after installing it is because of all the brain frying content being published. Anyone will post anything, knowing it will get them views, and that someone is consuming it. Then Instagram Reels became a thing, and with Instagram Messaging as my primary means of communication, it was already too late for me. I was in too deep.
On the topic of meaningless content, one thing that continues to puzzle me is the career path of “content creators.” With a word as vast as “content,” it forces you to question what the he** a content creator even is and what it means. You could consider producers, photographers, artists, or authors as “content creators,” and yet so are all the Tiktok thirst trappers and fashion influencers. I recall about 6 months ago, I was doom-scrolling Snapchat discover (don’t come at me, I know it sucks) losing brain cells as I tapped through a Snap influencer’s Q&A story. In it, one of the main questions that popped up was “what do you even do? like, do you have a job?” to which the influencer often replied with something along the lines of “i’m a content creator <3 I like taking pictures and videos and so I make stuff for you guys and post it!”
WHAT DOES THIS EVEN MEAN❗❗❗❗❗❗❗❗
Pain. Actual, physical pain. To think that this genre (typically conventionally attractive women who post a lot of selfies) has such a huge demographic to the point where you can be paid for it is absolutely mind blowing. We live in an era where all content is monetizable content, whether it’s good or bad because regardless, someone is going to consume it. Am I just a hater? Probably. Are these people valid in their line of work? Probably. Am I marginally jealous that simply ‘making content’ is rolling in the dough? Yeah… probably. I think we all are, at least a little bit.
Circling back from the whirlwind of a tangent that was this process post, it’s rather interesting to see the ways in which content comes in different forms. Jon Bois’ 17776 is a perfect example of this, contrasted against Snap influencers, which only goes to show how the possibilities for storytelling are endless.
No matter what, there’s always going to be an audience for content, because without one, who would we tell our stories to?