I have a deep, simmering hatred for the word “content”.
In 2023, I’m guessing we’ve all heard this word. But I’ll offer a brief, imperfect, human-generated definition: “Content” is what makes up the internet.
Medium articles, instagram memes, SEO pages about the best app developer services in India, TikToks, your aunt’s political Facebook posts — these are all ‘content’.
Some of that stuff can be pretty good — so why do I hate this word? Because ‘content’ is a generic, artless term.
If you work as a ‘content writer’ (as I have in the past), chances are, you don’t really know, understand, or care about the topic you’re writing on. I was writing articles about photographing grizzly bears. Have I seen a grizzly bear in real life? Sure. Did I get a photo? Nope. Do I have a background in wildlife biology? No. Did I offer anything personal to the topic besides SEO skills? Absolutely not.
“Content” is made to fit in a box, usually someone else’s box. A social media platform’s insatiable scroll, or a business’s need for a few paragraphs on an ‘About Us’ section: content is subservient to the needs of its form. Content does not justify itself. Content does not offer a thesis. Content does not change you.
I was reading a Medium article today, where the author, Dale Biron wrote some words which apply:
I want to draw a line right down the middle of your subconscious, carving out two critical domains. The first domain is the every day, “You.” It’s the you that exists before colliding with a poem, story, or phrase that captures your attention and interrupts your usual and typical patterns.
The second domain is a very different “You.” It is the shifted you that comes into existance (sic) just after reading or hearing language that stops you in your tracks, language from which you can neither forget or retreat. Words that say something to you that you’ve never quite heard before. However, once these words enter your psyche, you realize they describe a truth you cannot deny. A truth you did not know you knew.’