The Big Lie, Part II

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Content is King

…like this random rainbow dashboard picture. Publish articles, release free music, make YouTube videos. This is how we build our “tribe” and create “engagement,” thus building our “brand” and setting ourselves up for prosperity. I discussed the other Big Lie in a previous post.

What I think we are really doing is setting ourselves up to keep giving things away for nothing. Everything is free now, and trying to make money by “priming the pump” with free content has not proven to be very lucrative for most. There are always stories of the YouTuber who makes millions by opening toy packages or crushing iPhones, but these appear to be anomalies in a sea of wanna-be media stars, most of whom appear to use sexual content to get attention.

The New Opiate

In the absence of monetary gain, just getting attention appears to be the secondary goal of free content. Since access to the massive flow of money is basically controlled by the new media (Google, Apple, et al.) the only thing regular people can get is “likes” or “views” despite the relative meaninglessness of these figures. (until they reach the millions.) Traffic, comments and other “metrics” pretty much make us, the new proletariat, feel good about ourselves, but not much more. This feeling of importance, illusory though it may be, is reward enough to keep us giving away our work.

Drinking from a Firehose

Because of this Big Lie, literally everything you need to know is now on the internet. It doesn’t matter if how obscure a thing is, there are videos and tutorials for days, websites, podcasts, free apps and more. Surprisingly, lot of this material is quite good, since experts and well-educated people have bought into the free content lie. In fact, the most difficult problem in finding online information is sorting through the myriad options provided by well-meaning, sincere content creators.  It’s a buyer’s market for information.

The real beneficiaries of this system are the data miners and the marketers that are quite aware of our hunger for attention. It turns out that the videos and other content are really “filler” in order to get us to watch or click ads, or simply to reveal our browsing habits. In fact, content is not even close to being king; it’s a dressed-up stand-in for the real power behind the throne. Every time we give away our creative work and hard-won experience, we feed this monster, and further reduce the need for ourselves. They are making a lot of money, and we are not.

Stop the Madness

It is OK to charge for our services, our knowledge, our experience and talents. By buying into the current model, we de-value these things, and contribute to what appears to be the destruction of the market for creative work. Stop giving everything away.

It’s a Big Lie.

That’ll be $9.95.

 

  • Santiago Páramo

    What a great way to start my year Randy. Thank you! Your blog is always on point. Very well written and critical about what we are most passionate about. I highly agree with you on this topic. I hope our paths cross again in the near future. May this year be filled with excitement, joy and high end paid services for your beautiful contribution to this world.

  • Ken Gregory

    I think my favorites are the retirement homes that charge $6000 a month per person and want you to play old folks schlock for the “door”. I doubt any of their residents, administrators or staff ever worked for that.

    KG