At any given time we are likely one or the other.
As consumers we read what somebody else wrote, purchase what someone else made, ponder ideas someone else created, observe problems we hope someone else will fix.
Going to a movie, listening to music, attending a sports event, relentlessly checking Facebook or keeping abreast of the latest scores on ESPN are all about taking in content generated by someone else.
Being a consumer is typically passive and enjoyable. Little is required of us. And it’s almost always undeniably safe. I might feel a bit guilty about spending my Sunday afternoon watching golf on TV but hey, no harm, no foul.
As producers we are doing the work, writing the blog post, making that new product, bringing our art to the world, challenging the status quo, being the change we wish to see in the world. But as Seth reminds us, this might not work.
By its very nature, producing takes more energy, more focus, more grit and is riskier than mere consumption. Producing something with the potential to be truly meaningful and remarkable is more challenging and riskier still.
Of course we are all consumers and producers. There is no such thing a pure consumer or a 100% producer. On any given day, we will spend our waking hours engaged doing some of both. Life is a mixture of give and take.
So it’s not about being one or the other. And it’s not about labeling consumption as inherently bad and production as fundamentally virtuous.
But I do think it’s worth thinking about whether we’ve got the right mix.
And working to produce a better outcome.
I’m indebted to Reverend Aaron White of the First Unitarian Church of Dallas for his recent sermon that inspired this post.