Oh, Those Creative People.
(Disclaimer: Do not read this if you are either thin skinned or an easily offended type. This post contains vitriol, invective and absolute truths. If you recognize yourself anywhere in this post, then rest assured it is really you. Read on at your own risk. Or better still, do yourself a favor and don’t read beyond this point.)
One of the things I would blame on the mushrooming of social media is the ease in the disbursal of the “creative efforts” of our friends and acquaintances on multiple on-line platforms with the expectations that everyone on their friends list should like and appreciate their amateurish efforts. Don’t take me wrong but I am like every one else, a connoisseur of fine art, but what I cannot abide is the execrable creations often shared on social media platforms by over enthusiasts in the effort to prove that the person is also creative. Everyone but everyone seems to be following this new trend. Everyone is now doodling, drawing and sketching imagining themselves as modern day Rembrandt’s. Everyone is writing books and thrusting them on unsuspecting Facebook followers as the next great classic in the Hemingway and Faulkner heritage. And so on and so forth.
Previously there used to be a limit to which this kind of self promotion would go on. They could hire an art gallery, hang their sketches and invite a few selected friends to wine and dine at the gallery and said friends would go just for the free booze and offer a few inane comments while secretly laughing in an aside at the pretentiousness of the creativist. But now that social media has brought the gallery directly to your screen, even the limited inducement of free booze to digest those horrid doodles is now missing.
Imagine the shock of switching on your Facebook account on a calm morning and suddenly being faced with the “creative arts” (i am being sarcastic, of course) of a Facebook acquaintance staring straight at you. And if the said acquaintance is a pretty female rest assured the continuous likes and comments from male admirers will keep the post on top of your news feed for at least a couple of days.
Its even more so with novels- aspiring authors add you as their facebook friends with the sole intention of using you as beta testing drones. They start of slyly by talking to you about books generally, favorite authors, then inquiring about whether you have any idea of turning novelist, sending you a few motivating messages about jumping on to the, say the NANowrimo bandwagon and then when you are lulled by their solicitude they unleash their latest creative effort work-in-progress on you and demand that you provide candid feedback.
If and when you provide any such candid feedback, god forbid, they will unfriend you on Facebook, block you on watsapp and go bad mouth you on all other online forums for not being supportive and encouraging enough. Forget the fact that they cant write a leave letter to save their lives- they have imagined themselves to be a great novelist, their bosom friends have all agreed and you better fall in line or else.
I wouldn’t mind so much if any of these newbie creators can actually write something half way readable. But the truth is, they just don’t have it in them. Creativity and talent can never be achieved by hard work – you can train for a thousand years, but you cant write like Dante. Artists, at least the sublime ones are just born and not made. You can be a published writer but your work will not stand the test of time as it will not be able to bridge the gap between being a book and being art.
Now why are these people so intent on inflicting their agonies on us? Two reasons I would say- the first one is the ubiquitous mushrooming of engineering graduates who have scant interest in engineering. They have either not worked hard enough at their engineering studies, learnt enough to be a good engineer or they are just plain lazy. Not being able to shine in the profession they choose and studied for, they assume their creative talents merely need an outlet for them to make it big – forgetting that if you cant even do the basics right you can never get anything right. They take up all the pent up frustration at being also-rans in their respective chosen professions and release that rage on the unsuspecting art world- thus you have engineer trained doodlists, engineer turned artists, engineer turned novelists.
While the best engineers in the world , the really talented ones build great houses, great bridges, great nuclear reactors, even beautiful software codes with nary a bug in them and where the brevity of the source code will bring tears to your eyes with the sheer artistry by which so much is attained with so few lines of code. Such artists showcase their creative talents in their respective fields, they transcend the limitations of their own field with works of art destined to last a lifetime while the other kind, the failures at their own profession who crib about how boring their jobs are, aim for instant stardom via a book or a canvas and a load of pliant on-line friends who sing their hosannas for them.
The second reason is universal – it is the wide spread belief that everyone can do everything. This is the same mentality that rewards mediocrity and ass licking in bureaucratic setups as the incompetents rise beyond their own levels of incompetence. Not everyone can be an airline pilot who effortlessly flies a 747, not everyone can be an F-1 driver and drive like Michael shumacher did, not everyone can be a good enough tennis player like Andre Agassi and retrieve everything sent against him, not everyone can run a hundred metres under ten seconds and not everyone can be a neurosurgeon who navigates the living brain while the patient is still awake. Everyone cant do everything. Oh they can try, i am not saying they cant. They just cant have that sublime touch the superior confidence of doing something so effortlessly that it looks natural when its done by them.
Finally, art like anything else in this world is highly subjective what i find offensive you might find fascinating but taste is a matter of choice. And so to safeguard my sensibilities i am actively considering shutting down my facebook, twitter and watsapp accounts to escape the ceaseless assaults on my fine senses and my refined tastes. Its either the Sistine chapel or none for me. Save me, save my aesthetic sense.
P.s. I have deliberately left out talking here about all the camera owners masquerading as photographers and whose idea of a balanced composition is using photoshop to make a color picture into black and white. They have their legions of followers going hoo and haaa as they are mostly young, female and pretty. I think they deserve the honor of an entire blogpost by themselves. So hold on for part 2 of this post.