A couple of days ago, a professor asked my class whether we have a favourite columnist. Dead silence filled our Google Meet windows. 12 people (there’s no demand for journalism) just stared dumbly at the professor, who gawked back at us. She could not believe our audacity— nobody is our favourite. That’s the thing, right? The entrepreneur spirit has seeped into teenagers and twenty-year-olds stand tall with a million-dollar-and-follower empire behind them. Who can blame them? It’s the perils of having access to the multitude of content at an early age and having aspirations even before the knowledge of reality and life sets in. We have been content creators for far longer than we have been content consumers.
We have been so absorbed in creating our content and identity that we have shut ourselves in a bubble. A bubble where only our identities are being reflected and certainly, a bubble where only our content exists. To an extent, it is understandable, believe me. It’s a dog-eat-dog world and one can not slack off by simply idolizing their peers. However, to such an extent that we are unable to name one person as an inspiration is concerning, honestly. It does not just apply to random twelve students in a journalism class. It applies to people from every field. Some have taken it up a notch from dedicating their career to being obsessed with themselves.
A common argument I received while presenting this point of view is that—fandomhood is at its peak accessibility currently. K-pop, for example, is everywhere. Children as young as 8 and adults as old as 50 are all a part of this fandom. They not only consume their music, choreography and other recreational videos but some have also considered them as a saving grace when they were at a low in their life. So how can you (aka me) say that people are not fans of others/ consider others as inspiration?
Honestly, that’s a fair argument. It does make sense on a superficial level. However, here is where things get complicated. By giving us the authority to be content producers/ creators, technology has given us the authority to be content filters as well. The algorithm and the ability to mute what we do not want to see are all well-known concepts. It is largely the case that those who consume one interest mute themselves from other things that are happening on the platform. The question is: what impact does this pattern of self-obsession have on our growth, ability to co-exist and our survival in the long run?
Sadly, it does. Adulthood is the age of unlearning. This is the time we realize college is not as pretty and smooth as YouTube vlogs tell us, paychecks will always disappoint you and living a life (even a bachelor one) is much harder than it looks. It’s the time we realize those who live on the street do it not out of volition but something more complex. It’s also the time we realize that we have to make choices we do not want to make because that is the cruelty of life. We have to work and live with people we despise. We have to accept that not everybody can like what we create and even worse, we have to accept that our content has no space in reality. Now, this is only possible if we mingle, read and consume the content we have not created or liked. We could only burst out of our one-dimensional bubbles if we actually burst out of our bubbles.
If we don’t put in the effort to understand differences and be a greater consumer than a creator, I am not very confident about our survival rate in this big bad world.