“More than just economic prosperity”—A New way to look at the Creator Economy
“How can there be peace in the world if we don’t understand each other, and how can we understand each other if we don’t know each other?”. Perhaps I don’t need to write more on this article. This simple sentence is full of wisdom and has a deep meaning that reflects our world’s predicament today. That sentence was told by Noble Peace Prize Winner Lester B. Pearson in 1957.
This fact is stunningly surprising for two reasons. Firstly, that humanity and humans were blessed with such fine minds and thinkers since 1957 and we had already been pointed out the importance of understanding and knowing each other. Second, according to Britannica, we have still astonishingly fought 15 wars since 1957. This excludes the inundated number of times the world has witnessed ideological misunderstandings leading us up until today.
Ask yourself right now, do you think we live in a world where we know and understand each other? Sure, we have come a long way, but I am guessing your answer is still no. If it’s a yes do tell.
The missing and most misused piece of the puzzle
Before the advent of the internet, only well-educated people, high-income earners, and people with a genuine interest in knowing about various countries, cultures would read books, maintain pen friends and or speak to the very few ex-pats in their respective countries, if any. This led to a very small percentage of people understanding each other across the world.
Back then people believed what the local media, the government would show about different countries and cultures and opinions were streamlined and largely unanimous. I want to ask you a question at this stage of the article, do you think we understood each other better before the dawn of the internet? Think about it for a few minutes.
By the mid and late 90s, almost every country in the world had an internet connection, having said this, it does not mean every person in the country was connected to the internet. There remained a great digital divide based on similar factors to when the internet was not available. People with higher education, high-earning jobs, financially better off citizens were able to indulge in the privileges of internet connections and the unlimited possibilities it presented. As countries, businesses raced towards achieving economies of scale with internet connection equipment, broadbands, optical fibers, it looked like the world was bracing for a new era of increased people-to-people exchanges, more understanding, exchange of dialogue.
There is no denying that the internet has raised people’s standard of living, led to better economic growth, opened newer avenues for businesses, and thereby allowed different people from all over the world to interact whilst improving their lives. According to McKinsey by 2009 already which is roughly over a decade of the internet being available all over the world there was a correlation between internet contribution to GDP and a strong internet supply ecosystem in a country.
At this stage in the evolution of the internet, the creator economy had not come into existence, we were at the beginning of an attention economy where there was an information overload through pure TV advertisements, YouTube advertisements, and live teleselling.
Then came e-commerce in America in the form of eBay and Amazon and in China in the form of Alibaba and it took everyone by storm.
Suddenly, people were buying products and services from all over the globe. The creator economy played as a mediator by reviewing products, services with companies, people, and agencies all putting forward their own opinion about doing business in other countries. Somehow, the narrative was always that the eastern side of the world is pure, and goods are cheap there, while the west represented high-quality, high engineering, etc. Remember the time when almost everyone would just say cheap products means it is made in China? And any product owned and made in America or a European country signaled a symbol of pride? People on the eastern side of the world will be able to relate.
Perhaps what we did not expect and realize is that the small reviews of products, businesses, quality could become a bedrock foundation of how one side of the world perceives another side of the world.
And why? Mostly because it had become normal to believe that if countries like China, Vietnam, Cambodia, India were to improve, then it would have to be based on western philosophies, values, and principles. I could leave this particular topic for another article because it can be a complex topic.
However, let's fast forward to our extremely well-connected world, the creator economy rising, digital economy rising and people more connected than ever before, we’ve been inundated with business exchanges, cultural, cinematic, education-based exchanges which have given us the opportunity to learn more about each other. So how connected are we? How well do we really understand each other? Sorry to break it to you but we are more disconnected than ever, and it is much worse than any one of us could have imagined.
According to a study conducted by BBC and Ipsos, three-quarters of the world think their own country’s society is divided, with the majority of the people believing that their society is now more divided than it was a decade ago. The internet did create a democratization of access to news, views but also empowered very many people, international bodies, politicians, influencers to virally spread opinions for vested interests which have sown the seed of tense views, differences, and misunderstandings.
Source: BBC Global Survey: A world divided? The division was based on rich-poor, political and religious views, and cultural differences.
The study above shows just how broken the world is. If we are not able to understand each other inside our own country, how are we going to understand people from different countries? How can we pursuit achieve our common goals together? The study further pointed out that residents from these countries’ divisions were due to religious differences, cultural differences, political views, rich and poor divide, refugee crises, and an increasing lack of tolerance for outsiders in their country as the main reasons for a divided society. Can the creator economy still make a difference? Can the world still understand each other? Well, there will never be an answer and so I put forward the rationale as to why the creator economy needs to rise above just economic goals.
The new era of the creator economy
I spoke about Creative Economy 1.0 to 3.0 in the previous article, and most of it is what we are witnessing today and living in so let’s go straight to 4.0, and why it is the need of the hour.
Recently, the world has been shifting towards a “me first” rhetoric which has led to a greater divide between people from different cultures. While it is of paramount importance that every country deals with their own problems and strengthen inward in order to strengthen outward, humanity faces some shared obstacles which can only be addressed together.
As I quoted Lester B. Pearson in the beginning, he said “How can there be peace in the world if we don’t understand each other, and how can we understand each other if we don’t know each other?”. The creator economy 4.0 has the potential to help us understand and know each other and this is the first step towards healing a broken world. How can we start?
Taking the first step
While the business side of the creator economy will continue to thrive, we have a moral obligation to create content that helps the world become a better place to live in. I put forward the C4 framework as one of the methodologies to create meaningful to address cultural differences and a step towards a more culturally intelligent society.
Comprehend: We can start by creating content that helps people from different cultures, walks of life, religions comprehend each other’s lifestyles, embrace our positives, negatives through unbiased views from the past, unhindered from political views, and purely based on an honest, positive, outcome-based strategy that upholds the right values.
Creativity & Collaboration: Once we have started creating comprehendible content, we need creativity and collaboration at the heart of our work. Cultural topics can easily be boring, and leave people confused, willing to neglect content, and lead to more ignorance. Collaborating with people across the globe through social media will be essential to achieve content that is attention-grabbing and has an understanding from both sides of the coin.
Convey: This undoubtedly is the most important and critical step. One could have the perfect content in the world but if it is not presented in a manner that is relatable it could prove to be ineffective. Remember why the world loves influencers and content creators in the creator economy? Because we trust them, we can relate to them, most of them are normal people like you and me and somehow despite knowing them personally, we are able to form an instant connection through their storytelling, presentation, and relatable experiences. Every little help counts! Let’s step up and start healing the world by building bridges together.