The Internet, like many of man’s greatest inventions, is a force for both good and bad, but one of its most significant impacts on our culture is that it makes most media content available for free (or for a ridiculously low rate). It means that people are increasingly unwilling to pay for things like games, or magazine subscriptions, or apps. We still want them! But we don’t want to pay for them. This means that the people who work hard to make those media products are making less and less money on them. People are so accustomed to creators giving their work away for free that a lot of times they get irritated at the implication that they would have to pay to access a media product that a creator spent time and money creating. Even if paying for it costs less than a smoothie. And look, I am not a wealthy woman. I understand that we can’t all drop a ton of money every month on endless subscriptions and app purchases and new books etc. etc. etc. I certainly can't afford to do that. But I am suggesting that if you are compelled to consume content, that you take a moment to think about what went into creating it.
How long do you estimate it took a creator to develop your favorite iphone game? How many people do you think worked on writing, editing, designing, and publicizing the last book you read? How much value did it add to your life? Should creators be compensated for giving you that value? Maybe you don’t have the ability to pay for everything you consume, but you could put $5 towards someone’s patreon or their ko-fi account, or you could promote their work on social media. Maybe you could spend a few bucks to get the full price version of an app or a game from an independent creator. Books and art and games take work and money to make, and if you want them to keep existing, if you want to keep their owners from burning out and struggling to make ends meet, it’s worth taking a few dollars to support them monetarily (if you have the ability to do so). Maybe next time you see a piece of art that you really like, take the time to find the artist, and support them monetarily. (I guarantee the vast majority of artists have figured out a way for you to give them money if you take the time to look.) It helps them make more work, it makes them feel that their work is valued by others, and it makes you feel excellent about yourself. Win win win.
And if you’re looking for good things to throw your money at, may I recommend:
- Florence, an iPhone game about falling in love for the first time that made my heart feel too big for my chest
- Griefbacon, a newsletter about “crying in public and other stuff like that” from one of my favorite writers, Helena Fitzgerald. It will probably make you cry, but in a good way.
- The Shatner Chatner, a newsletter from Daniel Ortberg that makes me snort laugh on the regular. Snort laughing is excellent for your health, or so I like to imagine. I recommend it (both snort laughing and the newsletter).
Now go live your lives and throw your spare money (only if you have it, I must emphasize) in the direction of the creatives who make things you love.