A beautiful meme

“We opened up our entire course catalog for free access all month long!”… <Chilling>

“Free webcast from one of the best photographers in the world!”…. <Dread>

“That hilarious actor has started a new YouTube channel and it’s hilarious”… <Shudder>

I just can’t take this pandemic anymore. There’s just too much great content! What happens when you shut down the country and force hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands of amazing creatives to stay at home dreaming up great ideas? Too much damn content, that’s what!

It’s just gotten to be too much. Every time I open my email, log onto Facebook, or talk to one of my friends, I find out some other great artist is creating some new must-consume bit of artistic gold.

Some of my favorite photographers have made their entire training catalogs free to consume. Some of my favorite actors have started up brilliant, charming YouTube channels that warm my heart. My favorite brands are opening up their recipes to recreate at home. My favorite band is streaming old concerts from their archives.

Yes, it’s wonderful, and they’re truly bringing a gift to the world. But it also feels overwhelming. I literally feel a sense of dread when I discover yet another brilliant creative person/group/company has created yet another wonderful/kind/charitable bit of content. I want to consume it all. But there’s only so many hours in the day. And in the midst of a Pandemic Renovation and Home Move…and career….and single parenting? It’s just too much for my puny brain to handle.

When this pandemic ends the world will have a stunning volume of data to study. The air in LA has cleared up. The traffic patterns have changed. The grocery store shopping patterns have revealed what people truly love and want and need. PhD candidates for the next 10 years won’t have to struggle to figure out what to focus their work on…the struggle will be on narrowing down the focus. We are seeing our truest selves emerge, our truest interests bubble up. And it turns out, we love great art. We are finding joy in our own creative pursuits and the creative pursuits in the amazing artists that we have largely taken for granted in years past.

As a community guy, I hope that the pandemic has made all of us realize two key things:

  • The arts matter. And they matter a lot. In our darkest days, did we turn to our stocks and bonds? Or did we turn to our hobbies? Did we pick up our cameras, turn on our stoves, pick up our paint brushes, fire up our web cams and start uploading to YouTube? The arts matter because they help us blow off steam and form connections to our creative selves and to our friends and family and audiences.
  • The arts matter. And they matter a lot. In our darkest days, did we seek solace and joy from our suits and ties? Or did we turn to creative works? Did we tune into YouTube videos, turn up the volume on our favorite music, search for and share works of art, and share sourdough with our family that we made ourselves?

Community and hobbies are closely linked. Whether we are engaging others in a community around circuit board design around our jobs or we are sharing our passion for collecting antique Pez dispensers, the connection is what drives us to participate. The dynamics are mostly the same, even if the focus is meant for different purposes.

As a community guy, one of my biggest hopes that we see coming out of the pandemic is that we can see the death of the phrase “That hobby is so weird!” Every one of us is guilty of this. Not into stamp collecting? Stamp collecting it weird. Can’t understanding why someone would put $20,000 into restoring a car they might be able to resell for $10,000? Weird. Building a 6 foot tall Statue of Liberty of out of LEGO bricks in your living room? Weird. Cosplaying at a convention? Weird.

It’s only weird if it’s not something you do. But maybe now we’ll all gain a little more respect for the desire to kill some time with things that bring us joy. That’s an important part of the human experience… whether or not there’s a pandemic on.

So hobby on, my friends. Hobby on. (And then share your results!)

(And yes, for those observant readers, I’m fully aware of the irony of writing a full blog post about how there’s just too much great content out there on a blog post announcing a new comic strip I’ve created specifically to vent creative energy in the midst of a global pandemic. Hey, creators gotta create, amirite?)

If ever there was a Confessions of an Online Community Manager strip inspired by my real life experiences during this pandemic, it’s this one. As a guy with waaaaaay too many hobbies, each one I’m incredibly passionate about, there’s just way too much good content out there. Here’s just a random few that I’ve been dying to get to and haven’t had much time (in the midst of a pandemic fueled home purchase/renovation/move out/move in) to get to…with the exception of the Dole Whip. I’ve been getting ALL up on that one. I’m not a monster.