I’ve been in a few thrift stores lately and one of my all-time favorite things about thrift stores is finding and…um…celebrating the ridiculous stuff that people have owned and passed on. I make up stories in my head of the original owners and what possessed them to buy these things in the first place. I like to imagine the unbelievable joy they derived from owning this thing that I am now mocking in shameful judgment. Did they truly love this crazy shit and grow tired of it? Were they possessed to buy more crazy shit so they had to sell this stuff to make room? Did they just die and leave it for their heirs who then experience moments of comic relief in their hour of grief? Were these prized possessions actually fashionable or popular in some place and time?
Then my mind drifts back one step further to the artist. The Creator. The font of endless creativity from which sprung this gem that I now hold in my hand. Sometimes it’s obvious that, sure, at some point it may have been original, beautiful, cool, whatever. And other times I can derive no understanding of what possessed someone to think that what they were making was actually a good idea or would be remotely desirable to any member of the human race.
And here’s where I venture into something deeper: is this what keeps us from creating…writing, playing, composing, making, sharing? Will someone laugh at this? It’s already been done so why should I do it? Will this thing only matter to me and if so, why should I bother sharing it? Why bother making it in the first place for that matter?
There’s been a “make”/“DIY” movement/resurgence brewing for a few years now but it seems at odds with our daily practices online. Today I read an article about Facebook’s News Feed redesign that (interestingly enough) prompted crticism of how our culture is one of resharing other people’s stuff, rather than creating our own. Based on what I see in my Facebook, Google+, and Twitter feeds, I have to say that it does seem that way. There’s a constant stream of popular articles and recirculated sarcasm, but very little original content.
I don’t think it’s because we don’t want to create and share, but I think we’re afraid. I also think laziness is part of it, but not all of it. One tool that overcomes both these obstacles is Instagram. Instagram’s popularity—even after being bought by Facebook—can be attributed to its creative, visual appeal and ease of use. You can easily create and share simple images that engage and invite the viewer to interpret, remember, and reflect. Creating with Instagram is less threatening because of its simplicity and ability to allow just about anyone to produce beautiful images. The culture of Instagram is also one that discourages over-sharing, which I think adds to its attractiveness.
Creating and sharing original content online used to happend pretty fervently via blogs, but they seem like a dying breed. I know I struggle with writing and sharing original content vs. just sharing some cool video or quoting someone else’s article. You’ll see on this blog I kind of do both, but I do struggle with having/taking the time, and fighting thoughts of “ah, fuck it, no one will read this anyway.” I’ve decided, though, that sharing myself through writing/creating isn’t about getting recognition, growing readership, getting “likes”, or retweets. It’s about thinking, creating, and sharing. It’s about making something and putting it out there. Most of it isn’t exactly original but it’s still mine. It’s for me but maybe it’s for you too. It is harder than just hitting “like” or “+1” but creating and sharing online is a deeper engagement and I feel more fulfilled by doing it.
Here’s some pics of a few of those gems I’ve found in my local thrift stores. Enjoy: