This metaphor may be getting outdated since I know all of, maybe, 2 people who have built their own house… but would you build your house on someone else’s land?
Real talk. Would you put months, or even years, of work into building your dream home on land you don’t own?
Land that, at any moment, could be taken away from you. Forcing you to either abandon or pay to access your dream home?
I think this house + land example has persisted for so long because it is very tangible. We can visualize a house, we can touch it, we recognize it has monetary value.
When it comes to our ideas, our thoughts, and the digital content we create, for some reason this understanding dissolves. I haven’t figured out if it’s because people don’t value the digital medium in the same way, or if they just don’t value their own ideas. It concerns me because I think it may be the latter.
Every time you create content for, and within, a social media platform like Facebook you are giving away your intellectual property.
That is how these platforms make money.
People create content on these platforms, this content draws people to said platform to interact with their friends and see their content, and the social media platform makes money selling ads to the people that the content YOU made brought there. They are making money because of YOUR intellectual property.
If people stopped creating free content for these platforms, they would cease to exist.
I am not saying we should all stop using these platforms and let them wither & die. I love being able to chat with friends & family around the world and stay connected. I like social media and what it brings to the table.
The important thing to me, is that if you are investing your time creating content (in exchange for using a platform that makes money showing you ads) that you set up methods to ensure your intellectual property & ideas & creations still belong to you.
I want you to keep creating, keep sharing your opinions, and keep putting art & content out on social media. Just don’t do it natively.
Start a blog, create a website, build something for yourself. For $100 you can buy a domain, a year of hosting, and probably even a custom theme (design) for WordPress. I know people who have bar tabs bigger than that on a regular basis, I know you can find $100 and a few hours to invest to get started.
If you’re thinking “I don’t write, I’m a musician”. Guess what, Soundcloud isn’t the only platform for music. You can upload tracks & playlists directly to WordPress, and still use Soundcloud for discovery if you want.
When this happens you are no longer just sharing content for the sake of sharing, you are building a tangible asset for yourself. Something real, something that can’t be taken away from you.
Next time you get all fired up about something in the news, or in the world, instead of writing a long post right in Facebook, go to your blog.
Write your heart out, and tell your friends “hey, I feel strongly about this position, and I wrote about it on my blog”. Facebook still gets their free content, but you also get to keep it for yourself and build something (even if it is just a digital archive).
Have an opinion, share it! You may never want or need to monetize your blog/website, but at least it is yours and something you own. Someday you can look back at your blog archives and explore a digital footprint of your thoughts, and ideas, and how they have developed over the years. Good luck getting Facebook to save that for you….