There are more than 50 million people in the world today who consider themselves “creators.” (Signalfire)
While there is no doubt that the creator economy is growing at a rapid rate, how many of those creators are creating out of joy and purpose rather than to become the next viral sensation.
More kids and teens these days want to become “creators” — whether that be a YouTube star, TikTok idol, or an Instagram influencer.
In fact, a survey found that more American kids want to be a YouTube star (29%) than an astronaut (11%) when they grow up (Signalfire).
And while it has never been easier, it has also never been harder.
In this article, I want to raise the discussion of purpose and vision for creators and personal brands.
To shed light on a topic that I believe needs to be addressed.
To not be anybody’s dancing monkey.
What do I mean by a “dancing monkey”
While a “dancing monkey” does not have a literal definition, it is more of a metaphor for someone who acts foolishly for the entertainment of others, often being too over-the-top.
You can picture the image of a monkey banging cymbals together to entertain an audience with passerbyers exclaiming, “oh look, a dancing monkey!”
But the question begs, is the monkey dancing out of its own enjoyment or because we force it to dance? And do the ongoers laugh with the monkey or laugh at the monkey?
You can argue — well that’s how the monkey and it’s owner make a little money.
Well that would be true, but at what expense? Laughing at another living animal knowing we are the superior animal evolution-wise? Making ourselves feel better about ourselves?
I get that “it’s just a monkey,” but we need to take a step back and realize that being a creator means the world is now at your fingertips, and just like the dancing monkey, there are passerbys and people watching you. Except it is now 24/7.
It could be for 7 seconds, 30 seconds, a minute, 30 minutes, etc.
Are creators creating content because they are truly enjoying it, or because they are doing it for vanity metrics such as likes and followers? Or to just fit in with their peer group?
Don’t fall for vanity metrics
If the social media networks all shut down tomorrow, would you still be creating videos following specific trends trying to do whatever it takes to go viral, or would you focus on creating something that is more meaningful to you as an individual — as a creator.
If the social media networks shut down and you knew 0 people would see your videos, would you still do it?
If you are honestly able to answer yes to this question, then I believe that you are on the right track.
I don’t think many creators could answer “yes” to this question honestly.
But then again who am I to question the actions of others?
I don’t even have a TikTok or Twitter, I don’t even have a blue checkmark, and I definitely can’t dance to “Renegade.”
But I do know that I am an individual who wants to see others become the best versions of themselves, not somebody society tells them to be.
Take a look at this TikTok “Cringe” Compilation video and the top comment:
Now answer the question again, are we laughing with the dancing monkey or at it.
This holds true for all platforms and not just TikTok.
Take a look at Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
Most post things they believe others want to see or what they believe will be the most viral.
With all the reports on how social media can lead to depression, and the most recent Facebook whistleblower leak, we need to take a step back as a digital-first society.
People want to become a personal brand and a creator so they can make money, have fun, and be successful.
Yet for some creators, you are damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.
If you are creating content to just “join the group,” you need to take a step back and analyze what you’re doing it for.
Create content for yourself and with the proper marketing, you will find the perfect balance of creating content that you love and others find valuable.
And don’t mistake me, I’m not saying don’t create “comedy” content.
I’m saying create content — but create it with intention, purpose, and passion.
And just please. Whatever you do. Don’t give people a chance to belittle you.
Don’t be anybody’s dancing monkey.
Nate Torres is an entrepreneur, growth marketer, and photographer and writes mostly on those topics. Nate runs his own professional photography business called Nate Torres Photography. Nate enjoys learning about new digital marketing strategy and new ways to think creatively. He is also a photography speaker and author on Photofocus.