The modern world provides seemingly endless opportunities for entertainment, distraction and the automation of some of the more mindless tasks that our forebears would have spent their time on. In theory, 21st-century life should be packed with output from people whose minds have been freed to think, imagine and create, but is that what we are seeing? Well, no, it’s not.
We often see attempts of minimising risks in creative industries these days.
What we are seeing is endless re-hashing of the same ideas: sequels, prequels, remakes and re-imaginings abound, and the mainstream arts have narrowed to the point where film studios and record labels seem to be putting out very slightly altered versions of the same films and songs over and over again. Books that are particularly popular are made into films, and Hollywood casts tried-and-tested A-listers into leading roles whether or not they fit the part, simply in an attempt to guarantee a good turnout at the box office.
The film industry will only invest in scripts which follow an established format; record labels want bands to have a proven audience before offering them a record deal, and publishers want authors with a track-record of making the best-seller lists. Creative talent is secondary to the ability to market oneself and artistic ability is dwarfed by the overwhelming desire of big business to minimise their risks and stick with the familiar.
The most important thing to individuals has been changed.
Where big corporations fear to tread, however, the individual apparently rushes in. With more than 60% of workers stating that they value happiness over financial gain when it comes to their jobs, it appears that a pleasant working environment has a value that a pay-packet simply can’t match. All over the country, people are placing good friendships ahead of their incomes and are more motivated by the idea of going out for drinks and spending time with colleagues that they get along with than they are by earning more.
Ironically, we are often tied to our phones and not freeing our minds to think and ponder.
However, those same individuals are struggling to free themselves from the tyranny of the hand-held devices which are packed with distractions and diversions which pull their attention away from connecting with the people whose company they crave. With the ability to do almost anything on a piece of technology which you have in your pocket all day, comes the inability to enjoy genuine experiences, to allow our minds to wander, to experience the moments that inevitably pass you by when you are glued to the latest game on your phone.
The Big Brother’s impact is also limiting our creativity.
Alongside risk aversion on the part of the major players in the creative industries, the increasing availability of apps providing constant distraction from reality, and the internal conflicts inherent in human interactions, we also have to contend with attempts by the government to limit our freedom. With many believing that common sense is being eroded and replaced by increasingly restrictive legislation, the impact on the individual’s ability to act autonomously is potentially devastating.
But the ponderously slow speed at which the legislature moves has, time and time again, proved that legal solutions to social problems are an inefficient way of dealing with the issues that modern life throws in our path. Take the example of vaping – many believe that e-cigarettes should be classified in the same way as tobacco, and therefore should be banned wherever smoking is. However, those who have chosen e-cigarettes as a healthier alternative to traditional smoking believe that promoting a smoking alternative which doesn’t have a damaging effect on their health should be a priority. Waiting for government to collect the data, take advice and make a decision on whether to introduce laws which classify vaping could take so long that by the time they are introduced, a balance has been found that the majority are happy with.
Although society is killing creativity, there are still opportunities to retain it.
Modern society is made up of individuals who rarely have a quiet moment to examine their own thoughts and feelings, but who prioritise friendship over money, operating in an environment in which billion-pound organisations attempt to manipulate them into conforming. Creativity may struggle to penetrate the cynical profiteering that we have all become accustomed to, but as long as individuals can appreciate the value of originality and authenticity, there is hope that those qualities will retain their value.
Featured photo credit: Femsplain via femsplain.com