Creativity is interesting and puzzling. Moreover, while talking about creativity I am not only referring to artistic pursuits. I believe each one of us has creativity and we express it in our own way – whether we are building a software product or even when we arrange our room – the way to lay out furniture and create our own favourite corner to sit. I’ll probably write more about creativity itself later, but I came across this interesting TED talk that seems quite relevant – How craving attention makes you less creative.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a famous actor, filmmaker and founder of the online community HitRecord that inspires creativity through collaboration. In this TED talk, he honestly talks about his personal experiences where craving for attention affected his own creative process. And he carefully distinguishes between seeking attention, and paying attention. This is how he puts it –
But I do think there’s an unintended consequence for anybody on the planet with an urge to be creative — myself included, because I’m not immune to this. I think that our creativity is becoming more and more of a means to an end — and that end is to get attention. And so I feel compelled to speak up because in my experience, the more I go after that powerful feeling of paying attention, the happier I am. But the more I go after the powerful feeling of getting attention, the unhappier I am.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt talks about his own joy of creativity in acting, and even refers to flow. Yet, he discusses how his craving for attention on social media affects his own focus on his acting, his creativity. He further delves into attention-driven business model of social media. Here are few excerpts from this talk –
How does a social media platform like, for example, Instagram, make money? It’s not selling a photo-sharing service — that part’s free. So what is it selling? It’s selling attention. It’s selling the attention of its users to advertisers.
So it’s in Instagram’s interest for you to get as much attention as possible. And so it trains you to want that attention, to crave it, to feel stressed out when you’re not getting enough of it. Instagram gets its users addicted to the powerful feeling of getting attention.
It is important to listen to his complete attention-addiction discussion in the talk itself – he refers to some important work and books of Jaron Lanier, Tristan Harris and Nir Eyal. More importantly, he shares how he consciously shifts his focus on his own flow – paying undivided attention. You can watch it here –
This is one line that stayed with me from this talk –
If your creativity is driven by a desire to get attention, you’re never going to be creatively fulfilled.
~ Joseph Gordon-Levitt
If I may share my own experience, I deleted my personal Facebook account couple of years ago. Besides getting annoyed with Facebook’s own creepy beahviour, I had started questioning my rising need for validation. If that rings true and if you’re intrigued, you can read this insightful article – The Quest for Likes Will Destroy Your Creativity where Mike O’Leary discusses need for validation and opioids.
The featured images:
The featured image for this article is a royalty-free image from Pexels that I am using here with gratitude.