Sunday, September 2, 2012

Creativity Lost: (a)social wastelands Twitter and Facebook bankrupt creativity.

Recently I found myself on the campus of a large well respected university.  I overheard a new freshman talking to a friend, clearly upset with having to take a philosophy class in which he would be forced to write a paper.  The young man's friend was sympathetic, sitting there as the young man elaborated, "I made sure I took English classes in high school that didn't force me to write papers."  Yes, you heard right.  This young college student was upset that he had to write a paper for a college level course.  And why would he not be?  The days of being creative and writing blogs and journals are gone.  In their place, sites like Facebook and Twitter have emerged.  Sites that have made it so that young people do not have to use creativity to show off their ultra-amazing lives.  Instead of writing a blog entry, all one has to do to impress the world is post a one hundred and forty letter statement to the world, and that statement will, for a moment, make this lazy young person a superstar of his little pathetic internet world.

I wrote before about how I know quite a few people who were highly creative that have pretty much stopped writing and being creative after they left more creative outlets for Facebook.  Such sites that I saw people being creative on included sites like Storywrite and Deviant Art.  Although these sites could be portrayed as (a)social networks, I tend to not think of them quite in the same vein as Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace (MySpace was actually far more creative than Facebook and Twitter, as many people on the site focused on writing blog entries).  In fact, one thing I have noticed amongst my creatively bankrupt peers is that they all left other more creative outlets around 2009-2010 and disappeared to the (a)social and creatively-disastrous mental wasteland of Facebook.  

Sadly, I have seen individuals that once wrote detailed narratives of their lives and multiple fictional works, as well as individuals who used to create amazing works of art put a halt to that and instead replaced their intellectual and creative outlets with posting status updates about how amazing their lives are now.  I cringe to see people talk about how writing a three page paper is torture, because the extent of their reading takes place on (a)social networking.

Recently I was told by a friend that she was instructed to do a presentation of literacy for a college course.  The course required her and others to speak about what literacy meant to them.  For the subject of reading, many put Facebook.  Yes, many young people consider Facebook as being in the same vein as reading a book.  Further, I have noticed that many college students no longer seem interested in paying attention to lectures, instead opting to update Facebook statuses and chat on Facebook during class.  Recently at a professional level training course I attended, I noticed one individual text messaging during the instructional lecture.  Further, I am reminded of a mathematics course I took a few years back in which one individual was talking, yes, talking on his cell phone in the back row during an entire class period while the professor lectured up front. 

While the unemployment rate in the United States is very high, we have an issue of many young people who no longer care to improve and educate themselves.  Many opt to replace learning with the mentally dead sites of Facebook, Twitter, and the like.  How does one compete in the modern world if they refuse to become educated and challenge themselves?  Is writing a three page paper that challenging for a college freshman?  Does he expect to make it through college without having to write papers? 

I was told by the same friend mentioned above that she heard a group of individuals also speaking about how they planned on dropping out of an English class because the teacher expected her students to write papers.  Sadly, this type of not wanting to learn is something I am seeing more and more as I get older.  When I entered college I was excited at the idea of learning and enlarging my mind.  Then again, I am not the kind of person who will let sites like Facebook and Twitter destroy my creativity.  Thankfully, there are a few other people left out there who are creative and have no part in sites like Facebook.   Sadly, those people are not amongst the majority of my friends and relatives who virtually sold their personalities and their lives to these sites.

If you think that Facebook is a creative outlet, you had better think again. 
There is only a mediocre amount of creativity that exists in telling the world what you ate for lunch, where you are going for the weekend, where you went shopping last night, or where you got your nails done.  Sure, you can share pictures with the world via Facebook, that is, if anyone bothers to look at them instead of ceaselessly advertising their own amazing life.  However, if you write something substantial on Facebook, chances are that nobody will bother reading it.  The truth is, Facebook promotes laziness.  There is no need to actively create when one can passively browse through the status updates of others.  And that is if they want to see what their friends are up to.  In fact, it seems that more people are interested in what their competition or 'frienemies' are up to.  The pinnacle of creativity on Facebook seems to be in one-upping one's competition. 

I regret that I will probably never again see some people create the same type of things that they created before they moved on to Facebook.  Why should they?  They are getting the same strokes from sharing mediocre events in their lives with the world.  They no longer have to create anything to get the attention they seem to crave.  Instead they can post a short status message or a mindless one hundred and forty character tweet and feel the same sense of achievement that they would have once felt if they wrote a twenty page story.  No wonder people don't like to write anymore. 


Note:  I removed comment moderation for this blog.  Now all comments should appear immediately when posted. 


  1. Excellant, I hope one day facebook declines like myspace. Many of my 'frienemies' say that it will last forever :(

    1. I don't think it will last forever. In fact, I feel a decline coming on very soon!

  2. I've noticed a lot of people on FB "talking" about all the things they
    are going to do, but then they never actually "do them".There's
    a lot of "lip service" & "resting on past laurels" but nothing really
    new.For me, I found FB was eating up all of my "creative time".
    I was reading and listening to music less, and also not putting as much
    thought into my art projects.Not to mention the fact I was dashing
    around before bedtime trying to get my real work done.I also hated
    the anxiety factor about FB, contantly worrying about what I posted
    and how somebody was going to take it, whether I'd be "unfriended".
    Isn't there enough real stuff in the world to worry about without
    adding make believe FB drama to it?

    1. I have noticed this too. Many of us have grand plans for the future, but websites like Facebook drain all of our time. Creativity is oftentimes lost on these websites. We only have a finite amount of time. It is best to maximize that time. Being away from Facebook is one way to free up a LOT of time.

      As for the drama on Facebook, it will devour you if you let it.

  3. I once joined a contest from a planner company where you win a prize for completing 21 creative challenges (one challenge per day) under the Art Maven category. Within a short span of time, I tried out activities like haiku, nail polish art, origami, drawing, short story writing, and food styling. It felt a bit sad for me that only very few FB friends paid attention to them. (Most didn't even know I joined that contest.) When the contest ended, I had difficulty sustaining the creative momentum, partly because of lack of online support and partly because I was motivated by external factors like winning prizes as opposed to really trying out new crafts for its own sake.

    In contrast, most of my FB friends commented on the embarrassing photos I had taken of myself doing push-ups and crunches as part of the 21-day Fitness Buff challenge from the same planner company. They still mentioned those photos even though a year has passed since the contest ended.

    I miss the times when Multiply was still around. It was an outlet for sharing photos, but at least I could be sure that people read the short paragraphs I had posted about my vacation photos. My friends wrote meaningful blog posts and useful comments on my Multiply profile, and I did the same with theirs. I didn't suffer as much envy from photos of other friends dining together because I was focused on my studies at that time and because social media wasn't as distracting in the past.

    1. I can imagine that this is highly annoying to you. Facebook is such a one-sided website that it is really not about being social with others, but collecting self-esteem for yourself off of the likes that you acquire. I have found that, no matter how bad I want otherwise, it is best for me to just have some achievements in life that are for me and people that are close to me. Sometimes few others will care - especially on Facebook and (a)social media.