‘The Good Life’ Is NOT The Four-Hour Work Week

If you ask someone under the age of thirty what their dreams are, how likely is it they will answer, ‘To invest 10,000 hours into the Mastery of my craft’? Not very. You are more likely to hear about some passive income business they wish to run via their phone, from a tropical beach. How likely is said young person to even have a craft, to even have something they are Mastering? Again, not very.

We live in a culture that values money, fame and instant results. Social media pours gasoline on this fire; creating false expectations for what our lives should be like, for what the day-to-day should feel like; only setting us up for disappointment.

Mental illness seems to be more prevalent than ever before, particularly amongst young people. There are a few theories attempting to answer why this is, but the one relevant to this essay is how our expectations do not align with reality, with the way the world actually works.

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Stop Creating Content And Start Creating Art

Today, there is an overwhelming amount of content to consume—most of it, mediocre. Of course, there are plenty of books, shows, movies and video games; and, beyond that, there are plenty of YouTubers, streamers, bloggers and influencers. In our modern world, there is no boredom; and there is no gatekeeping to creating and sharing.

In one sense, this is a gift: think of the artist who, before social media, had to schmooze their way into galleries, pay for stands at markets. Now, they can list their art on Redbubble or Etsy, then advertise on Instagram; bypassing the schmoozing and fees, while directly targeting their niche audience.

But, while this new world we find ourselves in seems like a creative’s utopia, in another sense, the lack of gate-keeping is a curse. Of course, when I say this, I am usually met with many arguments for the contrary. But after years of ‘hustling’ as an online creator, my opinion has changed dramatically. No, I don’t dislike the fact that I could self-publish a book for little-to-no cost. But what I do dislike is how I could do it on a whim tomorrow; and how I could put anything in that e-book, even terrible, unedited content.

Am I making the argument for gatekeeping? Yes and no. This is such a complicated question, and it deserves a nuanced answer. On principle, gatekeeping is bad. As an artist, I believe in the freedom to share art, no matter the quality. The problem is: because anyone can publish, there are now exponentially more books—many of which, I am sorry to say, are not up to the quality of traditionally published works.

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