Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Content" and "Consumers"

So am I the only person that gets annoyed when people talk about "content"?

The phrase is aggressively bland and intolerably reductive. "Content" can be anything. "Content" is a book, an article, a song, a cool video, a funny joke, a clever program, a picture worth a thousand words - all glommed together into a single nondescript concept. Nobody who has created something worth creating, something that they're proud of, will refer to it as "content". "Content" is anonymous. "Content" is undifferentiated. "Content" is everything, and nothing in particular. "Content" is what you call it when you don't care what it is.

"Content" is what you feed to "consumers" - nothing more.

And there's another word that bugs the hell out of me: "consumers". A "consumer" isn't a person - it's a thing, a mindless black hole, which consumes whatever you put in front of it. People are complex and individual, but we know how to market to "consumers". A "consumer" isn't something you would ever have a conversation with. A "consumer" never produces anything of value. "Consumers" are all the same, and when they're not, they're amenable to market segmentation. "Consumers" exist because they're easier to deal with than people.

I think that the mindset embodied by these two words is a sickness. When you see the world in terms of "content", and "consumers" that want it, you're hiding away all the incredible richness of the world. "Content" is culture, viewed from the outside, with the intent to put it in boxes and sell it to people - sorry, "consumers" - and it honestly freaks me out a little that there are people out there that are willing to think in those terms.

So please. Can we all stop using these words? I think we'll all be happier in the long run.

1 comment:

Kiriska said...

Mm. I agree. With "content," especially. It reminds me of all the lorem ipsum text I need to put on websites before clients give me copy. It is filler and it needs to be there because it needs to take up space. Nondescript "content" is very much the same way. What is it? Who cares? As long as it's there and someone is looking at it?