The Death Of Creative Thought

"I feel as if I can see first hand how we as human beings are crumbling away."

18 Sep 2016

Death Of Creative Thought Lead Image

Words Paul Robinson 

In 1988 I used a simple house phone for communication, it was big, beige and stuck to the wall. I spent time writing hand written letters to a French pen pal and I used to stick twenty pence pieces into envelopes as a method of monetary transactions to feed my fantasy football habit. This was pretty average communication for an 8-year-old boy in an innocent golden age before everything went into complete and utter fucking meltdown. The 1990’s provided us with fax, email, chat rooms, and basic mobile phones, but the 1990’s was nothing compared to the 2000’s - a new era in which we essentially dropped an air strike on social interaction.

I feel that I am somewhat lucky to have witnessed first hand the transition from an era of technological blossom to full on anti social communication on a shit storm of sophisticated levels that both evolve our lives as they do ruin them. We’ve hit an unusual epoch, if one were to use such a stupid word. This is a time of great demand and reliance on technology but are we actually losing what makes us human. I think so, hence this article I am formulating.

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"We don’t have time to be creative anymore; we don’t give ourselves a chance because we are over saturated with information that is sat in the palm of our hands"

It’s no real secret that socially we have developed a new way of connecting and accessing information like we never had before. It could be that we are in a vast transitional period as we completely morph into a new era of development but it could also be the death of traditional creative thought, as we know it. I feel as if I can see first hand how we as human beings are crumbling away. We don’t have time to be creative anymore; we don’t give ourselves a chance because we are over saturated with information that is sat in the palm of our hands.

Humans by nature are thinkers; we have a history of pondering, inventing and gazing out of windows thumbing our chins as we search for something completely new and unfound inside our brains. This, as habitual as it sounds is something we could lose entirely if we don’t stop, stand back and stop thinking about our phones or what is going to be our next Facebook status.

If we look at how we use smart phones as an example, it’s very clear that we all consume information at a staggering rate; our phones may as well be stuck to our heads and, if every human was a clone of a Google employee then we would (Urgh that’s so miserable to think of). Most of the humans I know have a love and hate relationship with Facebook for example (not just social media as a whole), they need to know what’s going on but they cant stand to be that person who scrolls morosely until they find something that satisfies them - It’s the equivalent of curtain twitching but the curtain is now inactive and the twitching is just our thumbs working over-time. Facebook isn’t the problem though, I don’t blame Zuckerberg for creating what he thought would change the world and it did (and still is), I blame ourselves for replacing those moments of free space and thought with the screen of a phone and possibly damaging our thought patterns in the process.

I recently had to have my phone repaired as my 2-year-old son decided to see how far he could throw it; pretty far actually and overall - I was impressed. I was phoneless for 4 (really long) days, it was an odd time and I remember hating myself for wanting my phone so much. Each day I would get that feeling and each day I would say to myself “stop it you dickhead, go stand in the garden and think of things”.  I was at times disappointed for the photos I missed, conversations (online ones) I was not involved in and I often experienced the phantom pocket slap phone search – Steve Jobs didn’t just change the world, he changed us ergonomically, the bastard.

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At that time I was waiting in line in a local coffee shop, the people in front and behind me were all using smart phones faithfully - small beacons of light were sucking the lifeless pores out of their souls and preventing them from looking out of the window and admiring the sky that wraps around us. I ordered my coffee, paid and waited at the end of the counter, surrounded by phone addicts who had no clue if the coffee house was full, empty, on fire or if they were even in a coffee shop at all because algorithmic feeds were sucking them dry. It was actually sad to see but of course – its life now. It was then though, without a device to access the world that I started to think about work projects, presents I never buy people, home life, changing electricity providers, cutting my bars down, birthdays, and if I could really build a kitchen table this summer or would it just be another DIY pipe dream. These thoughts were imaginative and they had birthed from my own brain, I had no distraction and I was able to freely think about jobs or tasks in a totally fundamental way, free from the risk of a quick scroll, email or Instagram check.

I left the coffee shop and got into my car, free to think again. This I thought to myself was not bad at all - imagine me, thirty-six and thinking with my own brain. On my drive home I was waiting at the traffic lights a few streets from home, the traffic lights have a notoriously long waiting time, enough time to sit back, drink my coffee and look around at the things that happen when you are waiting for a traffic light to turn green. To my left the driver in the next car was obviously using his phone, unless he was just starring blankly into the foot well because he hated traffic lights - I hate traffic lights but I don’t look for solace in the foot well. This again made me think about where we are heading in the grand scheme of things, are we edging closer to a total black out on social interaction in the next 50 years. Will my son grow up in a world where he has no actual space from everything around him on a digital level? 

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The Internet has enriched our lives in many glorious ways, the use of smart phones and major advancements in digital communication has clearly altered the landscape we live in, and I am a victim that enjoys these delights every day. We can do so much more than we ever could with the Internet - Mr. Whatever who owns the local print shop can create his own website to sell his products faster and with smaller start up costs, and anyone who can point a camera at their face can turn themselves into an overnight commodity (if they know how to) - we live in a fantastic digital D.I.Y age but it’s a monster we are struggling to cage, even for an evening. 

Information can be ingested, news can be read beyond the pages of paper and businesses can connect in so many ways contributing to a challenging and ever-growing world economy. In other words, the Net is OKAY. Thanks Tim Berners Lee, for the hours you sweated trying to make a dream a reality, you are rewarded with the foundation of a brave new world, that and those apps where you can swap your face to someone else’s. Such wasteful fun.

So how do we create things if we don’t give ourselves time to create? If we don’t stop to look up into the sky and think? Remember that there was a time when we didn’t need to take our phone to the toilet and we wouldn’t get upset if we had left it in another room? Would Jack Kerouac have written a less thoughtful book if it were called On The Phone? Would Isaac Newton have still discovered gravity if he was always checking his Tinder? It’s worth a thought, if you can find the time. - PR


25 Nov 2014