The Anxiety of Emptiness

Food for Thought

The term “Content Creator” is relatively new, gaining popularity about a decade ago. It likely originated from marketing jargon, specifically “content marketing,” as marketers recognized social engagement as an essential business strategy. This shift created a demand not just to fill visual spaces—like magazine pages and billboards—but also to occupy time, like X posts per week, with content. Consequently, “Content Creator” emerged as a legitimate job title, acknowledging the challenge of continuously producing content.

This title subtly suggests that the anxiety of empty time and space drives content creation. Content creators are employed to alleviate this anxiety. Real-life socialization can also be motivated by it.

For artists, the challenge lies in transcending this anxiety. Art born from the fear of emptiness often feels hollow, reflecting its underlying motivation. So, it seems more fitting to label such outputs as “content” rather than “art,” a neutral term that aptly describes fillers for voids in time and space.

In my early 30s, I grappled with this notion. I ceased all activities except work, and for a time, I even stopped working. I purged nearly all my possessions, leaving my apartment barren and furnished only by inflatables. After work and during weekends, I would sit for hours on a bench in Tompkins Square Park, not even reading. I figured I should go down to the bottom of the abyss and see what was there so I wouldn’t fear it.

Eventually, the compulsion to express myself resurfaced. My criteria were simple: the expression had to be undistorted, warts and all—be it rants, boasts, insults, narcissism, or neurosis. I wasn’t concerned about the nature of the expression. It felt akin to an exorcism. So, my motivation became the opposite of filling empty time and space—it’s about emptying the noise within.

What will happen if all the noise is cleared? I don’t know; answering that question might be my ultimate motivation.