This past Sunday, I saw Parquet Courts play at Governors Ball. I’ve seen them once before at Coachella in - what was it - 2014? I started listening to Parquet Courts because I was hearing their stuff on the radio and wanted to be familiar with it before seeing them play at Coachella. While I enjoyed their set, I sort of forgot about them for a couple of years until their most recent album, Human Performance, was released. I listened to it once all the way through; the only song stuck out to me was "Berlin Got Blurry," which I had also heard on the radio. I added "Berlin Got Blurry" to my summer playlist because I was going to Berlin on vacation, but other than that, didn’t make an effort to get into the rest of Parquet Courts’ music.
When my friend gave me a free wristband to this year's Governors Ball festival, I scoped out the lineup to see who was worth catching: Car Seat Headrest, Warpaint, and among others, Parquet Courts. Before their set, I looked up their recent setlists to see if I would know any of the songs they would likely play. I noticed that my favorite song of theirs, "Content Nausea," was most likely not going to be on their Governors Ball set list, which bummed me out. The set turned out to be great, nonetheless - I moshed with high school boys - but immediately after leaving the festival, I pulled up Spotify to revisit "Content Nausea."
I remember listening to "Content Nausea" a couple of months ago for the first time in a year or so and finally realizing that the name of the song wasn't "Constant Nausea" as I thought it had been. The lyrics suddenly made a lot more sense to me in relation to the title. Still, I didn’t put much thought into it until revisiting the song after seeing Parquet Courts’ Governors Ball set. I listened to "Content Nausea" about a million times that night and the following day. Three years after I first heard the song, it now seemed to resonate more deeply with me. But, why? After meditating on the song, I realized that my own role as a content creator has definitely grown in the past three years, and that's what "Content Nausea" is all about - the creation and excess of media.
I've been living in New York City for almost a year, and now that it's summer and I'm out of school, I've been looking for a paying job to supplement my unpaid internship. I'm getting a grant from Columbia that's basically paying for my rent, but I don't have much spending money of my own. In an attempt to pay for the food that I want and activities to keep me occupied on the weekends, I've been applying to a lot of retail jobs. These were the jobs I instantly thought to apply to, as my internship is in the fashion industry, and working in fashion retail would supplement that experience, allowing me to learn more about a field of work that I could pursue post-graduation.
After giving it some thought, I began to feel less and less comfortable with working in retail. Since I have basically zero experience, I would probably end up working at a store with a low price point: think ‘fast fashion.’ The clothes I’d be selling would be mass produced, cheaply made, and quickly out of style. I feel strange owning a lot of things. I feel strange buying a lot of things. I also feel strange applying to work in stores where the aim is to advertise and sell a lot of things. This spurs from my interest in the concept of minimalism, which started around a year ago. I don't really want to sell physical things - I want to make things - but how can I make things and still be a minimalist? How can I make a living off of creation in the form of content and not in the form of physical items?
Back to "Content Nausea" – revisiting the song and its lyrics got me thinking about my own attitudes towards modern creation. Where is the line drawn between a content creator and someone whose endless stream of work is just going to make you nauseous? I feel nauseous in giant department stores where I'm overwhelmed by the amount of material items I can own if I just shell out the money. In the same way, I feel nauseous when aimlessly scrolling through Instagram, seeing content that doesn't always interest or appeal to me. This excess of content is unavoidable if you choose to use social media; even if you only follow a couple of people, there’s always going to be an explore page, popular posts, and trending tags, that beg you to click on them.
How, then, can I be a responsible content creator? How can I avoid this nausea-inducing media overload? I think it starts with limiting the amount of content I produce. I don't like Instagram accounts that post more than once a day. I don't follow many accounts in the first place, so anyone who regularly posts multiple times within 24 hours 'clogs up' my feed, distracting from the other accounts I choose to follow.
The second most important aspect of being a responsible content creator, in my opinion, is sincerity. I hope nobody ever has thought my online persona is significantly different from my IRL persona. I've been put off by people's ironic Instagram posts - that is, until meeting these people and realizing they practice the same irony in their day-to-day lives. I consider my Instagram a large part of my personal brand, and I would never want that brand to be insincere. I don't ever want to sell something that I am not.
I want to participate in content creation, but I don't want to throw something into to an already-growing pool of ignorance - "too much data/too much tension," as “Content Nausea” says. I think through all of my content before I publish it. I edit my photographs, draft tweet ideas in the notes section of my phone, and delete old posts that no longer fit my personal brand. This is all in an attempt to be the sincerest and most responsible content creator I believe I can be. At the least, it makes me feel better about myself. The phrase “Content Nausea” is so clever; it has that catchiness to it that makes it hard to forget. I sincerely believe that this phrase has pushed me to be a better content creator, reducing my work into its most essential characteristics, and I have two chance encounters of Parquet Courts at two different music festivals – three years apart and on opposite sides of the country – to thank for that.