This is probably not the best subject to talk about on a day when I am feeling lousy. However there is something that bugs the shit out of me, and I feel like I want to get it off my chest… or at the very least use my frustration for a blog post. I hate the term “Content Creator”. Over the last few years it has gone from something you would hear every now and then to something that is constantly used. At face value it seems like a term that places all sorts of incoming content on an even playing field. Do you write a blog? Awesome you are a “Content Creator”. Do you post amazing artwork on Deviant Art? Awesome you too are a “Content Creator”. Do you create a Podcast, upload songs to SoundCloud, stream “let’s plays”, post creative photos on Instagram, carefully curate a Reddit, or create amazing videos… then awesome by all reason you should all be “Content Creators”. The only problem is that this new unifying term… isn’t really that unifying at all. Functionally it should by definition mean anyone who produces content for others to consume. In my experience however that really is not the case.
When you see someone talking about “Content Creators” the majority of the time they exclusively mean Youtubers and Streamers. Please don’t think this is a rant against Youtube or Streaming, because while I fail miserably at doing either I greatly respect both platforms. This is a rant against the creating this theoretically inclusive term but instead applying it to a very narrow margin of items that are “content”. Functionally the frustration comes when someone says they are looking for content creators to work with a product, but in truth really meaning they want eyeballs on YouTube. For years I have struggled with the definition of “Media” as concerned with conventions and such. While I can qualify as such, it always feels wrong. I am not the news and I don’t produce content designed necessarily to inform purchase decisions or report breaking stories. I am the editorial page in the newspaper and spend my time talking about the things I want to talk about. More importantly however is the distinction that I do not do it for monetary gain. That last part often knocks me out of the traditional Media category completely. However having that special “media” pass sort of grants you an instant layer of legitimacy that cuts through some of the awkwardness that comes from introducing yourself and trying to get detailed information out of them about their product. Side note… having a business card also does this but it still ends up being wierd as you shove a crisp card with your logo on it into someone else’s hand.
Now I have gone to PAX three times and I have found ways to do this without the vaunted badge each time. However it would have made things easier, and acted as a sort of social lubricant to make the conversations flow a little more smoothly. I’ve been able to set up press appointments on my own without the benefit of the designation, so the truth is it isn’t a hard barrier. This year around however I saw that they had “Content Creator” badges for the first time, and then was instantly saddened when I saw that they were almost exclusively targeting Youtubers and Streamers with them. Maybe everyone just assumes this and I am the last one to the show. When you say “Content” to me that is a super universal term for literally anything that a user can consume. Hell if you are creating xeroxed “Zines” and handing them out to random people passing by… that is still Content to me because someone devoted time and effort and more importantly mental cycles in to creating something that they thought another human being would enjoy consuming. So all thing are largely equal to me… but it feels like some animals are more equal than others. Were it just PAX it would be no big deal… they maybe used the wrong term for the wrong thing. The problem is I have seen the same sort of stacked deck against non-video creatives in a lot of different “creator” programs in the gaming industry.
Maybe this is a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing, and maybe this is just a sign that I am old. Hell this past week I got my very first prescription for multi-focal lenses, which is sort of the gold standard of “signs that you are old”. However this is not me yelling at those damned kids to get off my lawn. In truth I just want all of the people standing on the lawn to be treated equally. While I might have preferences towards this or that sort of medium for consuming information… I am still actively consuming pretty much all of them. While I largely still think of myself as a blogger and a podcaster, that doesn’t mean I only get information from blogs or podcasts. I have a pretty steady diet of YouTube channel that I follow, and a handful of streamers that I watch “as time allows”. To branch out there are even a bunch of artists that I follow on a regular basis, and a few people that I keep tabs on just because they make really amazing craftables. In my mind each and every one of these people that I have identified… is a Content Creator. It should be this unifying term, not something that narrows the focus. I mean labels are bizarre in the first place, and there are a lot of them that I struggle with. Content Creator is just another in a long line of titles that I used to think seemed like a great idea… until I saw the way it was being used.