Is social media displacing creativity?

This post originates out of a number of discussions I’ve had lately with people on Google Plus.

The underlying notion is that people have a limited amount of free time, and if they’re spending it using social media websites then that activity displaces other – potentially creative – activity. There’s already been a lot written on whether social media displaces actual friendships (answer is: maybe).

What I’ve been finding is that when I spend time on these sites, the quantity of blog posts that I write goes down in proportion to the quantity of posts (or article cross-posts) there. On the other hand, exposure to other people’s ideas has resulted in some cross-pollination.

Which leads to a second point. The social influence tracking site Klout classifies people according to whether they primarily are producers of content, or rebroadcasters (i.e. curators) of other people’s content. To some extent everybody does both. Is it possible that the act of curation could be displacing actual creative output though?

What’s your take? I don’t have a strong opinion on this topic, and I really would like to hear what people have to say.

7 responses on “Is social media displacing creativity?

  1. Matthew Dubins

    Creativity is the process of taking elements of what already exists and recombining them in some way that wasn’t explicitly laid out for you (I admit sometimes you think you’re creating something new, but someone else has thought of it).  The medium through which your creative work is displayed can be almost anything.  Just because you’re using your social computing time reading other peoples’ stuff, it doesn’t mean that you won’t have opportunities to be creative during other times of your day.  Just seeing other peoples’ ideas gives you those elements you need to piece together something interesting and in doing so make something new.

    1. Anonymous

      Some good points here.

      Partly we’re talking about one medium displacing others – I used to draw/paint/make music, and somehow I don’t find myself doing those any more.

      The social web definitely allows me access to the thoughts of people I would never have otherwise encountered, along with a vastly larger audience.

      I just hope humanity doesn’t wind up spending all of its spare time looking at the latest equivalent of lolcatz. Or contemplating our collective navels.

      1. Matthew Dubins

        Drawing, painting and making music sound like very artsy outlets for creativity.  You could creatively create code to solve a problem in a way you would have never thought possible before.  You could fix a leak in your home using totally untraditional but effective methods.  When you have the drive/intelligence for creativity in you, it finds a way to express itself.

  2. Ezra Benjamin

    Voltaire was quoted saying “the multitude of books is making us ignorant.” In that same vein the enormity of information does not make us more intelligent. That being said society can not advance without some calculus; contrasting and complimentary ideas, feelings, and people. When someone explores personnel creativity; many draw from society and oneself in relation to. It is of little benefit to the creative process to follow a path of imitation but ignore any process would be defeating; no matter how unsatisfying. We learn in a variety of arenas, to limit ones avail to that which we deem quality creativity is to deny ourselves and society the gem of dissatisfaction.

    1. Anonymous

      Interesting. Plus c’est change, plus c’est le meme chose.

      We need to be developing the social web infrastructure to allow for more creative collaboration (as opposed to more collaborative sharing of content).

      I just had some ideas along these lines, resulting from your comment. Thanks!

        1. Anonymous

          I’ll put together a post. Don’t really have the time to exploit any more good ideas. Hopefully somebody else will be able to use ‘em. Assuming they’re actually good. :)