The Pareto principle is the general idea that most things can be broken into an 80/20 split – that is, you can gain 80% of the benefits of doing something in 20% of the time and vice versa. The actual percentages don’t matter – the general principle is what’s important: a small portion of the work takes up most of your time, but conversely, a large portion of the work is done can be done in a relatively small portion of time. This principle also holds for the producer/consumer divide, which is as follows: for communities, most of the work done to sustain the community is produced by a small portion of users, while the rest of the community passively receive the benefits of membership.
Here’s a more concrete example: Reddit power users. Power users are the producers taken to the next level: they generate new posts and report things to different subreddits to increase user engagement in the form of upvotes and comments. You also have reddit users who post, but only on occasion. Then you have users who only consume – people who only ever leave comments (I fall in this category) and lurkers who never even comment.
When I apply this distribution to my own life, I realize I spend most of my time as a passive consumer. In fact, it seems like modern society is pushing people in that direction further and further. It may not be an intentional broader strategy, but the influx of various media streams call on users to consume more and more, which naturally leaves less time to produce. Social media naturally provides easy paths for people to mindlessly consume – the endless loop of facebook posts harkens to the model, and the constant stream of new posts on reddit also can facilitate the content consumption cycle. Same goes for snapchat, instagram, etc. Then, there’s competing media companies like Netflix/every other streaming site that gives viewers an infinite stream of videos to spend your time. Netflix in particular is conducive to the consumption format, releasing shows in a way that facilitates binge watching by dropping all the episodes at once when a show is released. I don’t think this is a big deal, as the episodic nature of shows is a holdover from television days anyway, but Netflix is clearly aware of the binge watching facet of their distribution strategy and in fact encourages it.
Anyways, my point is, even though my only outlet of production is this blog, and I barely write as it is, I kind of realize how difficult it is to produce things. I can spend anywhere from 1-2 hours on a simple stream of consciousness blog post, but if I decide to carefully go over a topic and do some edits, a post can take me several hours. On the other hand, it only takes me like 5 minutes to read my post. Clearly, the work that goes into consuming is nowhere on the level of actually producing the work in question. When I think of all the books that have been written, TV shows made, movies produced, reddit posts created, etc. I think, “Damn, that shit must have taken forever.” Anyways, I’m going to try to start producing more.