Should we stop using the word “content” to refer to creative work?

Credit where credit’s due, the idea for this post, and the quote above, comes from a recent video by Campbell Walker on his Struthless channel, which hit home personally just a couple of days ago.

The video covers the huge amount of information on the internet nowadays, and how people feel pressured to constantly upload something new because they fear becoming irrelevant. The result is that there’s a seemingly neverending stream of stuff to be consumed, all of which is now lumped together as “content”.

As I said, this hit home the other day as somebody asked me to “create content” for their website. When I asked what they were specifically looking for, they seemed surprised because they thought “content” was a catch-all for the kind of thing I do, and that somebody like me would know exactly what it meant. And therein lies the problem. As Campbell quite rightly says, the danger of lumping writing, video, music, photography, design, illustration, art and any other creative pursuit together under the amorphous title of “content” not only devalues the work, but also adds a layer of confusion.

Should we stop saying “content”?

I’m not saying we should stop using the word completely, but I do think that we should define it. For example, when I spoke to the person who got in touch with me a little more, it turns out he wants me to help him generate some ideas for articles on his website, do some copywriting, then help him with his own writing. That’s a lot clearer than “create content”, wouldn’t you agree?

If you mainly create illustrations — even if you only share them on Instagram — don’t be afraid to call yourself an artist or illustrator. Likewise, if you write songs, call yourself a musician. Just because you’re creating what has become known as content on the internet doesn’t mean you have to put yourself in the box of content creator.

It seems to me that trying to shove all creative endeavours into a big pigeon hole is the exact opposite of pursuing these things in the first place.

If you haven’t watched the video yet, I highly recommend it: The problem with the internet that no one is talking about.



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The Death Diary

A writer celebrating life and seeking to put off his date with the Grim Reaper.