Keri Smith is one of my long-time life heroes. She's an illustrator and somewhat singular author, and her blog, "The Wish Jar Tales" is one of the first I subscribed to - maybe fifteen years ago (could that possibly be right?). She's been someone I've really regarded as a gentle leader in the space of conscious creative practice - and discovering new ways of bringing that to broad audiences consistently, without becoming monotonous or losing a sense of her own voice.
Her first major book, Living Out Loud and subsequent volumes (especially How to be an Explorer of the World - a kind of fluxus-for-daily-life book of art instructions) gave me the guts and inspiration to do crazy shit like start my own store and write a massive, in-depth course on creative practice that went on to become something that actually changed people's lives.
Here she pens a giant call to action - a cry for a new web - an aligned relationship with digital social service providers. While I am the practical cynic who understands the function and motivations of greed and easy commercialisation, I do tend to agree with her.
Our brains after all are sensitive instruments, how can we expect them to function at high capacity when they are overloaded and overstimulated? We know that if we have a diet of junk food, that our bodies do not function well and begin to fail us. Why is that we are willing to accept filling our psyches with crap also?
In the same way that Gary Vaynerchuck talks about giving content significantly more than receiving (or asking for) return, Smith decries the current experience of digital socialising as now profoundly diluted, but worse - polluting. Destructive. Toxic.
In fact, something about watching Gary Vee's video yesterday made me turn back to Lewis Hyde's seminal tome, The Gift where the idea of the creative "gift economy" is unpacked, explored, given breath where the idea of a holistic creative exchange is otherwise smothered or shut-down; it is a paeon to the tangible value and sacred intangibilities inherent in not making selfish and fearful demands of one another, but rather giving freely of oneself. It's a concept I think is directly aligned with Smith's campaign, and precisely the place from which I think we can begin to explore a simpler, more honest and generous web.
I highly recommend you read the whole piece for yourself. It's not a long one. And it will get you thinking. While you might not be ready to abandon the increasingly monetised platforms that you're currently patronising altogether, it is worth considering her argument - as content creators and consumers: how can we create rich and rewarding alternatives together?
We CAN use our voice by choosing who and how we align ourselves. We can place a high value on our brain space and not let it be infiltrated on a daily basis and filled with crap. We can choose something better. Something healthier. Something that adds something of value to the world.