My YouTube subscriptions list is full of “riff” videos, sarcastic reviews – basically people yelling at the camera for my entertainment.
My Feedly reading list is chock full of gaming and comics channels, as well as websites dedicated to fantasy and science fiction.
My playlist brims with symphonic metal, stand-up comedy, an audio book or two, and wrestling podcasts.
All these are interests I developed before I was 25. I am happy here, warm and comforted, because there is no need to explore.
The internet was supposed to be the wild west. A place where anything could happen. Minds would be bent, twisted and blown, new ideas exchanged, every day an adventure.
Now the wild west is a tame frontier of content as far as the eye can see, but nothing disturbs or disrupts. It’s possible for each and every one of us to build such walled gardens that we drown in content, from shitty clickbait lists on hipster food on Buzzfeed to well written articles on Donald Trump’s impact on the conservative movement, also on Buzzfeed.
My entire online existence is a gigantic walled garden, created by myself, as well as bots and cookies working away to unearth every little detail about my media consumption habits – just so it can offer me more of the same. Rarely do I stumble across something outside my sphere of interests, which means rarely do I get a chance to broaden my horizons anymore. Headlines are designed to tickle the palate and content is generated at a blistering pace. Every minute, 1400 new blog posts are uploaded, 2.5 million pieces of content are shared on Facebook, nearly 300,000 tweets are sent out. It doesn’t matter what your niche is, there’s too much content out there for you.
Thus, niche is where we stay. We’re stuck in our own well-defined universes, watching the nth video on the 10 Worst Sci Fi Movie Special Effects Glitches of the 1980s or the Most Misogyistic Video Game of all Time ( Duke Nukem Forever. It’s ALWAYS Duke Nukem Forever), but our worlds don’t go beyond the borders we created for ourselves when we were young. Borders we could create, ironically, was because we didn’t have these intellectual walled gardens to stop us from exploring.
The isolation is real. The feeling of wasting time in empty air is real. The stagnancy is real. And it has to stop if I we have to nurture the spark of creativity in our heads. So here are my suggestions, my personal 5 commandments to live a healthy, fulfilling and satisfying online existence that fosters creativity. Hope it works for you too.