Lockdown, Consumption and the Age of Creativity

It’s no surprise that the Covid-19 lockdown had massive tolls on mental health. Around the world, we saw high cases of depression and anxiety in the months following the first lockdowns. But it was during the pandemic that creativity struck me. Out of the mind-numbing boredom of confinement came a spark of inspiration, one I fanned into a flame. 

I recognised that the lockdown would be a time for introspection and discovery for artists. We were given time to explore new art forms and reflect on previous pursuits. I found myself pondering over what art forms I would pursue, what I would stop doing, and what I might discover.

One theme that played out worldwide was the increased consumption of online content. Youtube and social media consumption skyrocketed. For online creators, this was a market boom. Everyone was suddenly glued to their gadgets, scrolling endlessly through their social media feeds.

I noticed this in my life too. For the first days of the lockdown, my phone usage was embarrassingly high, with most of the time spent on Youtube. But while part of that was for pure entertainment, I did gain exposure to a plethora of activities I had not known before. Among them were:-

  1. Sculpture
  2. Playing the piano
  3. Writing online (on a blog)
  4. Listening to podcasts
  5. Pen illustration
  6. Extensive reading

Clay modelling was one activity that started as a tentative project and grew into a healthy passion. It transformed the baggy and shapeless lockdown time into a creatively intense period in my life. I ended up making many sculptures during my confinement, a topic that I will write about later.

Creativity, at its most basic, gives us a medium to express emotions that words can’t convey. It gives mass to that most intangible ardour in us.

But with more content consumption came the realisation that the quality of that content was mediocre. While the quantity was high, its median value was low. Talk shows, skits and other entertainment content; all made time fly by without providing intellectual stimulation.

We live in an age of information plenitude. The internet is full of content, but therein lies a problem. How do you know what to consume and what to filter out? How do you avoid clutter? How does one sift through the hodgepodge?

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David Perell provides unique insights on this in his article – “The Paradox of Abundance”.

He says that we live in the best of times for the conscious consumer. If we are deliberate in choosing what to absorb and what to ignore, then we will be propelled to the top of our fields. We must disregard the machinery of mass media, recommending empty content. 

As David Perell says, “If you serve as a mechanical slave to mass media and online algorithms, you’ll end up with intellectual diabetes. To find quality information, you have to rebel against the incentives of mass media and the algorithms that threaten its business model.”

“The modern media environment helps a small number of savvy consumers, just as it destroys the lives of millions of mindless consumers who are paralysed by fear, anger, and misinformation. Every day, the variance between them increases. Careful consumers use the information at their fingertips to compound their wisdom while compulsive ones drown in a volcano of fire-burning rage.”

Let’s take the example of obesity. With the proliferation of both junk food chains and healthy food options, we see an increase in obese and fit individuals. Our information diet boils down to what we select and reject.

With all this consumption, I was bombarded with information with little use for. That is why I turned to creative pursuits—it was a medium to articulate my emotions. Be that writing, sculpture or sketching, I could ideate my thoughts into something concrete. It gave me respite during the lockdown.

Creativity is a journey that has no destination. It tests you at each turn, with no end in sight. So then, why do we pursue it? What makes creativity so attractive that many spend much of their lives in its midst?

Creativity, at its most basic, gives us a medium to express emotions that words can’t convey. It gives mass to that most intangible ardour in us. It fuels us like nothing else, taking us into another realm beyond the materialistic world. 

When in “the flow”, reality is but a distraction. Your attention is solely reserved for what lies before you. Nothing else matters anymore. You bathe in the reverie of creation, enthralled by the frisson of innovation. You embrace it in a blaze of glory, coming up with art beyond the scope of human imagination. And yet ironically, it is what makes you human.

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Published by Ishan Shanavas

I am a young adult, interested in nature, photography, art and culture. An aspiring polymath, I share my learnings through my blog. I also include insights from my favourite books.

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