Philosophy of Consumption (Prelude to a Manifesto)

I don’t philosophy. But after meeting someone who has a much more thoughtful approach to what we’re trying to do as writers, I went back to my class notes from Creative Writing and looked at my teacher’s outline for writing a manifesto. It’s been three years since I took that class (my first official writing class), and it shocked me how far I’ve come. I think a lot of it has to do with my most recent completed project being a fanfiction about a YouTuber, and in the name of “honest portrayal,” I wrote a lot of stuff I wouldn’t have normally. (But it’s not like I agreed with much of what my teacher said at the time either.)

I got the “creator” idea from Ted Dekker’s book Showdown. Writers, painters, musicians, sculptors – we are all creators. I like the creator-consumer dichotomy because there’s nothing that hasn’t been done before. You are creating based on the sum of everything that you have seen and everything that you have heard and everything that has ever happened to you.

I have this rule of thumb that a set of guidelines is what you fall back on when you’re not sure what you’re being called to do specifically. Being raised Christian conservative white collar Asian first world middle class, I appreciate a good set of rules. But at the same time, there are so many situations and so many nuances of situations that there is no conclusive set of rules for creation content.

“Garbage in, garbage out,” right? Or “out of the heart the mouth speaks.” I think a philosophy of consumption is a lot more important than a philosophy of creation. My goal is not to be well-versed in pop culture, although I’m not necessarily against a certain awareness. My philosophy of consumption is that I want to learn new things, period. I want to understand geopolitical interaction and cultural significance (not pop culture, but historical importance and impact on the future). I want to have a frame of reference for conversing with a variety of people; I want to know enough about their topics of interest that I can ask intelligent questions.

I understand that there are some things we don’t joke about, and likewise things that we shouldn’t portray in a positive light. I don’t believe that we should just avoid them. That doesn’t help the issue because our consumers will simply find another creator who is talking about them. It’s important to handle sensitive or immoral topics in a way that doesn’t desensitize, glorify, or trivialize, but not writing about dark things at all is like covering your eyes instead of ducking when a soccer ball is flying toward your head. The soccer ball is still there.

Sadly, with the kind of cultural shift that has already occurred, there are a lot of soccer balls flying. My denial of the soccer ball coming at my head does not affect the fact that someone twenty feet away decided to kick it a little too hard. There are aftershocks in our communities, and sometimes all you can do is duck, or yell at someone else to duck. This is the issue I now take with my teacher’s philosophy. I feel like her philosophy is to pretend that certain things don’t exist, and that philosophy is getting us nowhere.

If I say, “My favorite color is blue,” and you say, “Me too,” we don’t learn anything about each other. We don’t find out that my favorite color is actually purple because it’s calming and dark without being depressing, or that your favorite color is green because it’s the color of the world coming back to life. I’d rather disagree with someone because it makes me think about why our opinions differ. If I don’t initially agree with your opinion, I will think about it far longer, give your point of view far more consideration, maybe even change my own opinion. And that’s not just the kind of person I am. Don’t negative comments stick with you much longer than positive ones? Don’t you get defensive much more easily than you get flattered?

I went to a pretty strict college, as evidenced by the manifesto outline I’m criticizing. It’s a good school and I’m not sorry I went, but I don’t think they do a great job of instilling a spirit that appreciates rules. For example, we weren’t allowed to have earphones because they didn’t want us secretly listening to music that didn’t pass the school standards. Did that work? Did it mean no one had earphones? No, it meant that we listened to secular radio in our cars, or that we put the earphone wires down our sleeves and leaned on our hands. Now that I’ve graduated and I can listen to whatever I want, I’ve had to create my own standards for what kind of music I should be listening to. And it’s been hard because no one at school ever really explained why certain music was better than any other kind of music.

Whenever I talk to my very deep new friend, I keep thinking, “I should write this down.” I think that’s why I’ve dived back into these notes like they actually matter. Now that other people are seeing what I write, the quality of my creation does matter. My notes are no longer just something I need to memorize for a test. I’m a creator now, and I might just change the world.

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