Moments ago, I was so struck by this quote from Carl Sagan I felt compelled to write. It sent me down an amazing path of self-inquiry.
“I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness…
The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance”
― Carl Sagan,
Am I any smarter?
Abundant Content is a new business, Daily, I discover more and more what kind of work I enjoy doing (content-related coaching, guest-blogging, editing, wordpress-y things, video, SEO optimization) and what work I will be a little more hesitant to take on again (ghostwriting, for example – it’s a paycheck, but it does not bring me joy like a byline does).
But there is this: I am a storyteller, and while I am a part of America’s information economy and feed my family this way, I intentionally live in Mount Shasta, California, a town with eight crystal shops. I do like shiny things, I have a regular yoga practice, hate wearing shoes and, as I have probably said before, I’m fond of people like Chani Nicholas. And I fully, completely believe in magick.
So am I any smarter than the average Kardashian fan, then? I don’t want to be judgy-pants, Carl Sagan, but I’m going to do my best with the content I produce and promote to put something out there worth paying attention to, and just for the warning, it might have some glitter in it.
Info-hoarding: let’s get KonMari on this shit.
It’s a daily scenario in both my own and my clients’ inboxes: Do I need this? No is my usual response, not unless you’re on the edge of your seat reading that sales copy. Not unless you’re feeling so compelled to take that course or read that book that you won’t rest until it happens. Save the rest of your yes for your own projects.
Clean out your Pinterest. Be real about your bookmarks. Delete or merge the social media accounts that don’t serve you anymore. Start unsubscribing to at least half of those “how I left my job and started working on the beach in Mexico” emails because seriously, no one really sits there in white working on the beach in Mexico. The reality is that people don’t wear white in the trenches. They wear it on resorts and in ceremony . For the rest of us peasants, white clothing gets dirty, sand gets in keyboards and wifi is found in coffee shops.Start unsubscribing to at least half of those how I left my job emails... Click To Tweet
Get up early, do some work at the cafe and then go to the beach with a book or your family instead. Support the little Mexican lady who approaches you with a cooler full of tamales, get a fruity drink with an umbrella in it from the European expat who’s got his place staffed with locals and a couple of hot traveler chicks, and call it a good day.
(This part is totally me, totally just talking to myself, ya know, with memories of that time in Sayulita close at hand. I want a simple life).
Skimming the headlines
In adapting myself to the web over the years, I noticed how much my own reading patterns began to change. I saw how it affected media everywhere: magazine articles begin shrinking to a single page, and writing everywhere began to require shorter paragraphs and learning to skim headlines (I’m so guilty).
Our favorite things now seem to be infographics and listicle formats: “5 Ways You Can Do Something That’s Already Been Done A Million Times” (I love the listicle too, don’t get me wrong) – because we can skim that listicle, read the points, and if there’s anything, anything at all, of substance there, we can read a few short sentences that flesh out a point or two, and they’re fun to share. They get social points because they only take a click to circulate. Our attention spans are growing shorter and shorter as we spend more and more of our time scrolling and learning how to numb ourselves against the constant onslaught of sponsored ads and boring content that only exists to pack keywords into.
And with all that, it’s imperative that I to learn how to work in this world without dumbing it, myself, or anyone else down.
So, back to the Carl Sagan quote, as I make my way through entrepreneurial courses and support groups and sift through mountains of “information”, I share his concerns, especially as the owner of an information-based business that’s still really finding its feet. One thing I do not want Abundant Content to be is a business that cranks out abundant amounts of meaningless content for paychecks. For me, abundance isn’t always reflected monetarily: work is how I learn things, and I love to learn (hell, I love to work, too, if we’re going to be honest). Abundance, for me, is supporting a steady pace of inspiring and educational clients and topics (and of course, beach in Mexico).
None of this is to say I won’t write some more crap in the process *ahem*. And it’s not to say I won’t write something or offer guidance on a topic that’s already been done to death *cough*. I will do my best to do that from my own personal perspective and experiences, and I’ll do it with the notion that I’m doing it for the people who look to me for advice so that they don’t have to look elsewhere.
I’m going to put my best into this, and heck with it, i’ma clutch some crystals and maybe pull off a little chunk of hope from this month’s Virgo horoscope while I’m at it, cuz that’s really just how I roll.
Gaining clarity: I have so much and I still want more.
I’m still digging deeply, still gaining clarity with every project, still holding a truth that gets more and more defined by the day: I want to produce, and to help others produce, content that brings inspiration and positive change into this world. I want radical, authentic, thought-provoking things to read and witness, and I want hard truths addressed. I want to acknowledge fear and help build courage.
I want clean water. I want thriving local economies based on good, creative, healthy and sustainable things. I want an end to blindly wild and dangerous resource extraction, so my children’s children’s children’s children will still have beautiful, wild, natural places in which to be a part of a thriving, whole ecosystem. I want dams to come down. I want salmon back in rivers. I want cannabis respected. I want farmers, farms, and farmers’ markets to rock and bless communities.
I want inspired speakers and coaches to continue to help people improve themselves and stay inspired. I want healers to continue to facilitate healing. I want indigenous causes supported, stood behind and funded. I want community activists to be able to stay out there on the streets instead of having to learn to hack Facebook. I want musicians and artists to continue to uplift, inspire, and bring awareness to things that are beautiful and things that need to change. I want festivals, workshops and gatherings to continue happening, to offer opportunities for people to live in a way in which they are convinced, even if just for a weekend, that another way is possible (I know from experience that one weekend can affect a lifetime). I want abundance to be and mean something other than a catch-phrase for white privilege.
I want what I do to make a difference. A real one.