Unoriginal content

BORTHWICK,-Allison

Column by Allison Borthwick, Opinion Editor

Despite Andre Gide’s successful career as an author and despite being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1947, he knew one thing to be true:

“Everything that needs to be said has already been said.”

If he were alive today, he may have written an article on “15 Reasons why you’re not Unique” or “This Man Thought He Revolutionized Writing – You Won’t Believe What Happens Next.”

Why? Because one person says or does something a certain way, it’s “successful” and the rest follow suit. Simply put: because it works, so why not?

That’s precisely why there are roughly 400 articles floating around right now listing any number of reasons why Murray/Murray State is simply the best – better than all the rest.

Or why there are so many “Open Letters” to so many things and people that I just want to close them all. Stop opening them. Seal the envelope. Maybe there are some modest letters out there that don’t want to be open.

They aren’t making a sixth Paranormal Activity, Finding Dory, Toy Story 4 and a Full House reboot because there’s still a story to be told and a valid plot line the people need to see.

No – it’s because it’s easy to do the same thing over and over, especially when people keep buying into it.

Redundancy sells.

We read list after list, give into click-bait articles and see movies out of obligation to the other three we already saw in its series. We buy into it so excessively that writers and movie makers have no choice but to keep giving us what they think we want.

They are forced to create things for numbers, not content.

There’s a saying in the social media/communications world: “Engagement is king.”

That’s not necessarily true.

More and more people create something – an article, blog post, video, photo, etc. – with the sole purpose of getting more views, more likes, more comments, more shares.

If a reader or viewer does these things, does the creator really care if their audience was truly engaged? Does it matter if they saw or read whatever it was and felt a connection with it?

Or is success so based on numbers now that we have lost the original purpose of creating something for the world to see?

Engagement.

As a public relations student with three internships under my belt and a painfully realistic view on life, I’m very aware my success depends on numbers.

I could pour my heart into a blog post about my company’s mission, but if it only reaches one tenth of our Facebook audience and nobody shares it, I have nothing good to report to my boss and I’ve failed.

We’ve reinvented a wheel that used to spin in the direction of creating something worthwhile – something that would captivate viewers and get them emotionally involved. Now it spins in a whole other, twisted direction.

There’s a second line to that quote by Gide: “Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.”