The truth is that we were brought together by a social platform. Even with all the flak surrounding social media and the internet in the age of the millennials —some that I have personally laid out— I feel it is the most exciting time to be alive, just because of the sheer number of talented people and professionals we can come across just by a tap of the fingertip. Inspiration scouting routines which were earlier reserved only to weekend visits to the art museum, grappling for a seat at fashion week or saving up allowances to catch a movie in the theatre, have today been democratised to the comfort of your own, comfy, living room sofa. Don’t get me wrong, the pleasure of a real experience could never trump a visual across an LCD screen, however, having the option to discover new artists, musicians, creatives or talents was earlier only a possibility from a month long wait for the subscription of an indie magazine or word of mouth. The difficulty and thus the beauty of unearthing a band, a painter or a film one truly loves, is endearing to me on so many levels, yet so limiting, that I prefer the possibility of coming across the work of a Russian still-life photographer or a French short film at a simple click.
Some may debate that over-sharing and the magnitude of available information is taking away from the creative process or true inspiration, some even chiming in that most can be noise and only a distraction; to which I feel, in most situations one has the power to cut out the noise, the uninspiring and the mundane. If we, only for a moment exclude the dichotomy and look solely at the positive aspects of the internet and social media, we will see that today we have the most power to celebrate and support creative energy of complete strangers that resonates with us. There isn’t a single day when I don’t come across a photographer who shows me a completely new perspective, or an artist, so imaginative, they are able take me along for a ride in their world from a thousand miles away. Each day I end up feeling proud of unknown people who are only a website, a profile or a portfolio and thankful for their existence.
Post conversations with several of my friends and colleagues, I have come to be thankful, also, of being able to look at somebody else’s work with a purely positive and celebratory sentiment, as I learnt, most people are filled with either a need for comparison or competitiveness. The general structure of society is to blame for this. Competitiveness, although a capitalist phenomenon, has seeped into every walk of life, making every opportunity a race. It’s penetrated down to how people generally speak in life.. is X better or Y, who is making the most money, who is the ‘best’ at the moment? Questions which seem innocent but create a mindset of comparison, famously thieving all joy. Except in sports, where the outcome of a race, a match, a championship matters to the game itself, I think competition in all other setups is nonessential. Especially when it comes to creatives. Creativity and it’s forms, like art, music, literature are subjective and have never been about touting the best. It takes several artists to come together to start a movement like the Renaissance. One voice can only do so much but a number of voices coming together, celebrating each other, collaborating, can create an atmosphere which is inspiring for everybody to thrive in.
Comparing yourself to another human being, in itself is a senseless exercise. Two lives can never be the same, have the same experiences or share the same level of talent; and thus at a fundamental level, the comparison becomes a waste of time. What one can do, however, is learn from somebody else’s excellence and compare yourself to what you were the past year, month or day. That, is a comparison which can yield several insights into your own self and teach you how you can be better. Looking at another’s work with pure joy and appreciation, getting inspired with the mind and not the product, create a value much greater than imitation. Pastiche can only take one so far. With all the available information today, it is easier to spot a counterfeit. There are several who ‘also’ ran in the race, but few who took everybody along and built a community. I’d much rather be a part of the latter statistic.