There was a time when families would sit around the dinner table and talk about their day. Walking down the street meant we’d sometimes exchange friendly words with others that crossed our path, and customer service was more about quality instead of self-serve counters. Yes, technology helps us but is it contributing to a lack of creativity? With individuals spending more time on their phones, and a decline in writers earnings it’s clear that creativity is in a losing war with technology.
The Technological Boom In the 1980s computers became prevalent in homes, and this was the start of a technological boom. Forget the days of sitting in front of a typewriter, because computers provided a more straightforward way to write articles, books and gave young individuals the chance to learn to program. Bored teenagers experimented with the fascinating equipment, and a whole new revolution began; video gaming. It was the most definitive aspect of taking computers away from practicality and creating the most powerful weapons for entertainment. However, computers also gave young people the chance to experience the world from the comfort of their home. As a young child, I marveled at the small discs, which contained games and encyclopedias. Encarta shaped my life, gave me a love of history and enabled children to discover a vast realm of information. From the intoxicating dialing tone of the internet to sending a text message on our cell phone, consumers welcomed technology with open arms. Looking back to these times, it seemed creativity would benefit from technology. So what went wrong? The Rise of Smartphones Remember the old-school Nokia? We made calls, texted and played snake for hours at a time on them. However Smartphones enable us to go online wherever we were, whenever we want. While satellite navigation and online shopping make life more convenient, there are drawbacks for creativity. A study by the PNAS highlights the importance of daydreaming. It’s key to creative thought, and a healthy imagination enables writers to create exciting pieces of content. One of the most prominent writer’s tips is to use your full imagination when writing. Not only does it help create a story, but the reader can also become a part of it. How can we let our imaginations run wild when we spend every spare minute on our mobile devices? School assignments used to require us to look at the evidence, form an opinion and write about it. Doing this taught us vital problem-solving skills and was the basis for many writers to discover their talents. Now all students have to do is go online, search for an assignment topic and they can access pre-written templates. Social Media, Wikipedia, and Google dictate the information we should read, instead of letting us decide. If a topic isn’t trending, the chances are we won’t notice it. This kills creativity and original thinking. One of the biggest things writers have to consider about content is if people aren’t demanding it, will they read about it? Creative Content vs. Useful Information There are so many exciting things for content creators to write about, but we have to evaluate the pros and cons of each topic we choose. The internet dictates what writers should talk about and this generates streams of unoriginal content. With low pay being one of the most significant problems content creators face, we find ourselves in a constricted environment with a sink or swim mentality. Writers must consider how others will receive their content, and social media is a determining factor. Today, the quality of our work is defined by how many likes and shares each piece gets. Tips from content creators remind new writers that relevance is the key to building a successful career. The influx of “how to” articles and advice blogs, mean content creators are battling to provide useful information but struggling to write original content. A recent report by Newsweek showed shocking information about the death of creativity. Studies show that since the 1990s, intelligence scores rose, but creativity scores have fallen. Businesses rely on ingenuity for survival, and creativity is one of the biggest qualities companies look for when hiring employees. Children spend hours in front of the TV instead of engaging in creative activities, which means creative intelligence will continue to decline. Can We Find a Happy Medium? Companies such as Amazon made ebooks the new way to enjoy literature. While digital book sales continue to rise, there’s been a significant decline in writers earnings. A recent ACLS survey shows that writers earnings have fallen 15% since 2013 and many writers cannot support themselves through writing alone. Content creation is a necessity for survival, and financial needs mean staying relevant takes preference over creativity and free-thinking. Technology has many benefits, but people must use it to enhance creativity instead of killing it. The internet means we can share ideas with people all over the world, at no cost. Better still, the worldwide web has space for niche topics, and places where writers can share their work to gain a following. Content creators should aim to find a balance between writing relevant content to make money, and sharing their creativity with the world. If consumers commit to moderating their use of technology, there’s still hope for creativity.