Be a Producer, Not a Consumer

Hey friends,

Earlier today I published an article on The Low Tech Trek talking about the importance of producing over consuming.

We have always tended to be a consumerist culture, especially America, but I believe it has gotten worse with the rise of social media and smartphones. We always seem to be consuming the overabundance of information and many of us have stopped producing and creating, not only for others but for ourselves. Time that use to be spent on hobbies is now spent on the screen.

Do any of you have experiences in your life like this that you’ve observed? I really want to advocate for producing and creating in our world that mindlessly consumes.


Thanks Pat. I think that’s reflected in the evolution of personal computing - from the days of desktops we could programme and tailor to what we want to produce, to smartphones with locked down operating systems and apps that encourage consumption (directly and indirectly) . On the flip side, modern computing is more accessible for more people, and thus can allow people to be creative and produce things, but the design is for consumption in general.


Hi Jon,
Thanks for your comment! You are absolutely right. With the rise in technology, it does offer a lot of amazing opportunities to produce. And it’s true that usually what is produced is usually meant to be consumed. It’s important that everyone adopts some form of producing instead of solely consuming.


Derek Sivers shares this vision, although a little more hardcore.

I’m ambitiously focused on creating

More than anything, I want to make lots of stuff. I want to make articles, books, websites, music, companies, systems, apps, and especially new ideas.

This shapes most of my life decisions. Saying no to almost everything, so I can have lots of time for making.

Another snippet from his about page:

I also want to learn lots of stuff, especially different approaches to thinking and living. That’s why I read so much non-fiction, and want to keep moving around the world.

I connect with those who stretch, strive, and grow. I can’t relate to those who chill, hang out, watch TV, party, etc.

I’ve optimized my life for creating and learning. I’ve cut out most things from my life that most normal people do — (like hanging out or media consumption) — in pursuit of my bigger goal.

It’s a vision that I strive to adopt as well. No TV, no online videos, no distractions on the web. Just creating. For now, that involves creating software that respects people, their freedom and their privacy. When you cut out consumption, there is more time for exploration.

I also found that people don’t necessarily need to consume what you produce. Even if nobody consumes what you produce, you still grow in the act of producing, far more than you would through mindless consumption.

Thanks for the article, Pat.


I love this, John. Producing and creating is still valuable even if, as you mentioned, no one consumes what you produces, as it is a growing and learning experience essential for our development as human beings.


I have thought of this conversation often- I’m relieved to have my thoughts validated so thanks!

The problem of producing today is the purpose of it- if we are producing to make life more efficient what will we do with our time when we have more of it?

So my question is- who are we helping when we produce- what will we be helping? Will we help people save time but in the process of this lead people to a 2D screen they can never get away from?

My daughters school and many others today talk about the great things they will create with education- the next greatest online taco stand menu to fulfill OUR greatest dreams. BUT I ask, will what you learn with technology or math will you save a persons life, a father of 6 children. Or will you help discover a cure for cancer with technology?

We need to encourage creating for humanity, otherwise we are right back where we started.


Great point…I think it’s important to keep in mind what we are producing and the purpose of it. It’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement in the advancement of technology. It’s important to take a step back and ask, “Is this valuable for being a good person?”


You are gracious @PatMc a comment like mine could be annoying when your post is filled with altruistism. I’m not sure if I’m just getting old or today’s world makes me question everything I do, every motive to be sure I’m not repeating what I can’t tolerate myself.


Producing means to be making something. First year engineering students are taught that inventory is money and the goal is to sell at the same rate as you produce.

Production means to produce something tangible too. Making apps or software bits isn’t really production…but I do understand how this empty day and age can make people believe that nothing is something.

We have lost sight of the real engineering aspects that built our society, our culture, our nation…and now it rots into oblivion while the ‘new breed’ can only ‘produce’ useless apps that do nothing to fortify or expand our infrastructure.


Many digital producers - it would appear - are ultimately just consumers of themselves…a tad narcissistic it all seems.


It’s interesting to consider why digital producers are producing such products. Is it simply for attention and only to be consumed? Thanks for your comment!


This is so true. I wonder what these apps really do to better our society and culture.


Pretty sure apps aren’t inherently useless.

Most are, but it is OK that you find some of them useful. Whatever it takes to get you to consume more and produce less…

Predominantly, apps get you to spend your money and time on things that produce very little of value to the world. Even the acronym ‘apps’ is lazy and less productive compared to the original term ‘program’. The powers-that-be don’t want any hints to the lessers that they may be being programmed…so they changed the word to something more dumbed-down and more effortless to say…‘apps’.


@Cyborg What an ever profound statement.

We mostly seem to spend most of our limited lives either producing or consuming useless things. Something has to consume all of our time or we’d be bored.

So what are we to do, spend all of our lives producing life-improving discoveries for all of humanity?

That is incompatible with the capitalist system. We need to find a way to reconcile the race to the bottom of the attention economy with what humanity truly needs. Though we all have different opinions it seems almost everyone agrees that what is being produced now is manipulative and wasteful, and our time could be put to better use.


That’s quite a grand statement. It also minimizes the massive individual and societal impacts of digital technologies, including ad-funded apps, for staying informed, spreading awareness, building support networks, helping run small businesses, getting directions, getting quick, affordable rides instead of drunk driving, and 1,000 other things for 1,000 different kinds of people.

Look, we all know digital technologies have major issues, that’s why we’re all here. But I think it’s silly and counterproductive to make such grand dismissive statements like calling apps inherently meaningless or only about wasteful consumption just because you personally might not derive value from them (although I would bet you do too in numerous ways).


Consider how many apps are in the Google Play store database…then consider how many of them actually get used. I would posit that 90%+ of them were a complete waste of time.

Then again, I am from a day and age where pencil and paper were still useful, so what do I know? (perhaps more than you… :wink: )

Manual Dexterity. Lavarse las manos. Wash your hands. Hands are tantamount to huMAN. Man. Woman. Hands.

They can do so much more than type. Make something real.

Make no mistake, I am keenly aware of what is happening in the tech world. I am involved too…