Creation and Consumption

Thinking about how time is spent - in terms of creation and consumption.

If you’re watching a movie, you’re consuming something. But someone else – many people, probably – were involved in the creation of the movie.

Take this article. I’m the one who created the content. You are consuming it.

So man-made things typically have a component of creation and consumption. Someone created them, and others consume them.

There’s nothing objectively good or bad about creation and consumption. It might sound like creation is always better than consumption, but that’s not true. You might get more value from reading (consuming) a great book or watching an awesome documentary than you would have gotten from (creating) writing a blog or uploading a video on YouTube.

Everyone consumes some content or the other, and most people (hopefully) create at least something.

So, just like everything else, it’s a personal choice whether one prefers to spend time consuming or creating content. I call this the creation-consumption ratio, the ratio of time spent on creating and consuming.

I already said there’s nothing objectively better about creation than consumption, but value judgments are never objective, and neither is this article.

Many people don’t seem to be aware of their creation-consumption ratios. A lot of time is spent in consumption – and a lot of that consumption is mindless.

It’s not even a fair fight. In a world where quintillions of bytes of content is created every single day, we are bombarded with options to consume. It’s not surprising it’s easy to consume something or the other – in fact, you’ll often hear that it’s supposed to be hard to resist.

And on the other hand, the act of creation is among the hardest you can do. Even something as simple as writing this article requires thought, time, effort and energy.

Even worse, much of the content seduces us into consumption, wearing the guise of “productivity”. Many documentaries and books (especially non-fiction) make us feel like we’re spending our time doing something useful – even though that’s not always the case.

Consumption serves two purposes – happiness or usefulness. Either it makes us feel good – and that, I think, is a sufficient reason to engage in it. Or it is a means to an end in that it helps us in our own creations. So you might like reading or watching movies, and you might also leverage the ideas you derive from them to produce something of your own.

I’ve never understood why people whine about spending their lockdown or holidays watching TV shows or “wasting” time on FB/Instagram. Why do it if it doesn’t make you happy? And if it does, then why whine about it?

It’s mindless consumption when you go on consuming without stopping to wonder why you’re doing what you’re doing.

If you’re in the habit of doing that, remember that there’s only a finite amount of time you have on this Earth: The content you consume is consuming you.

The act of creation is what adds something new (not all creation, obviously). Whereas, consumption, no matter how good, can never bring anything new by itself. Regardless of how great a book you read, you are still consuming ideas already created by another person – unless you add on to them, which requires you to create something yourself.

If we classified the factors behind economic inequality very simplistically, we could categorize them as Systemic and Individualistic.

Systemic would be everything beyond the control of the individual – caste, gender, accident of birth, nationality and so on. They play a major role in creating and shaping inequality.

But even in a world free from all these ills, we’d probably never have perfect equality.

That’s because individualistic factors would still differentiate people. Not everyone can earn the same amount of money, and not everyone wants to.

But I’d guess that a major difference between the rich and the rest would be their creation-consumption ratios. Wealth is typically (again, unfortunately not always) made by creating value. A Mark Zuckerberg makes billions of dollars because he created the idea behind Facebook. A large chunk of youth, on the other hand, spend hours consuming whatever Facebook offers them, and perhaps even get negative value out of their consumption.

The point of this long post on a very abstract topic is simply to help you be aware that there is a difference between creation and consumption. There’s nothing wrong with either and you can’t avoid either one entirely.

The difference between the two is visible every day. It’s the difference between eating and cooking, between singing and listening to music, between reading and writing, between watching a sport and playing it. All of these might be enjoyable, and some of them are synergistic – reading can improve your writing, just as watching professionals play tennis can help you with your game.

So, nearly every time we engage in anything, we make a choice. If you know the difference between these two, you’ll at least be aware of what you are choosing to spend your time on, and hopefully what you’re choosing is what makes you happy.



awesome article. i always say the world is made up of two people , one performs inside the field and other who are spectators. but historically creators get higher status income and wealth . the only exception is working class where they have been creator of maginificent art right from taj mahal to new parliament building. what they will get is pittance. in conclusion, the value of ideas creation has always been better than its implementators


Maybe you could think of it in terms of differentiation or value addition.

Whenever you do something that many people can do equally well, you have nothing to differentiate yourself. The market supply is high, and naturally the price you command is low.

It’s not that the implementers are not doing good work, it’s just that many people can do that work.
Very few could perhaps design the Taj, but many people could do the manual labour of building it.

So it’s not surprising that those who take the plunge to found a business and bring an idea to life make much more than those who work for them.


Youโ€™re A Savvy Problem-Solver…SIR!!!
loving your articles.


Hello, really interesting line of thought. In a world full of content and finite amount of time, it becomes important to be selective and mindful.
I see that you are a stoic, I would love to hear your thoughts on journaling and how it can bring clarity in this day and age.


I’ll write about it soon.


Hi Pratyush,
I have got to admit I came across your site due to obvious reasons (upsc cse) but lately I’ve been finding your thoughts rather your “creation” much more thoughtful and intriguing.

Would love to know what’s your take on Nietzsche and also on modern age Motivators rife over social media channels (considering your inclination towards Stoicism) ?
( I personally find their content to be a bit over-optimistic at times)


Oh, God! YES. I am beyond happy to find another person who finds modern age motivators to be a bit over-optimistic. It’s not just their optimism that is impractical, but also that they believe that a single definition of hope and optimism would fit all. Pratyush is an amazing writer for having raised the element of truth in this line of thought. And, Stoicism is the future.


So nice to hear a similar line of thought from you !
I believe that stoicism can beautifully uphold optimism (not impractical ) to a certain extent and hence it’s a good approach towards life in general.


Exactly his views are awesome…they are practical and shows us reality of the world

Aman Satyarthi

Optimism is a myth in my opinion. The existence of optimism itself is for existence pessimism, the other side of the coin. Positive thinking stays in your mind because of the negative aspect only. It’s like you are carrying Positive thought in your front and Negative thought in your back. Motivational speakers are unproductive as they can’t really change the attitude of the listener(directly or indirectly). Realists are more productive in my opinion(in case of CSE prep as well). Lock the sources, enjoy the syllabus, give the exam and move on.

Pratyush sir, Please enlighten us. _/\_ _/\_


Hope you found it helpful for upsc.

I don’t think much of motivators personally, and actually don’t understand how it can be considered a “career”.

But others tell me they have benefited from such channels, and since the market seems to demand it (judging by the $ in that industry), maybe it’s just a question of individual tastes.

I’ve always thought that motivation is personal. If my motivation was so weak that it depended on listening to other people, then it could just as easily work the other way and I’d get discouraged too listening to others. I believe it shouldn’t depend on anyone else.

I’ve found more “help” from philosophy – Marcus Aurelius, Nietzsche especially – than most “self-help” books personally.

I’ll write about some of their ideas in particular in the next blogs – or rather, what I made of some of their ideas.


Yes your blogs were very helpful !

I too find external motivation to be transient personally.
Looking forward to reading more about your thoughts on philosophy and experiences in the beautiful Mussoorie:)

On a different note, what’s your take on the recent attempts to online media trial of farmers protests by public?
No matter which side one chooses, it’s really disheartening to see hate speech and ill-informed opinions circulating all over social media instead of trying to approach the matter in a peaceful way.

prasun roy

hii..pratyush ..i have read each and every article of you.. there’s no denying you are gifted.. please advice me how to be calm n composed in tough situations in life where outcome isn’t in my hands.. how did you find such serenity .. clarity of thought.. such control over your actions .. we know what’s good for us..still why do we procrastinate ๐Ÿ˜”


Passive consumption is worst. With the continuously deteriorating attention span, propensity to read 280 character long stories, indulging in memes, I feel form of active consumption in form of reading can be discounted . Again, as you mentioned lot of it is filled with predictable plots and is utter waste of time; in any case , awareness ( of time, of content ) becomes paramount.


you are too good thank you so much for sharing this view and do write more and more we keep wait for your articles sir!!!!!!!

Shubha Shukla

what is process by following which one can marry uh?


Hey conclusion is that …
I have fall in love with you , (why? , ,don’t know it’s first ever feeling …i feel amazing)
& Want to marry you …….(stupid, loves make you call stupid not my fault uf !)

1. What is process by following from which a girl can marry you ?
2. To whom you want to marry ??
3. Do you want to marry or not
Or decided to be single ??

Just want your answer in your very pratical way

Once you answer I promise i disappear from your blog or i ll never come across you …. already never wanted you to know me .
Just want your answer on public platform
That yess I do love you โค๏ธ

Not because you are successful or handsome …..

Being a girl I have number of proposal of friends , or from boys who are successful or Handsome .

But could you please answer of these 3 questions I would Never ask anything or bother you again .
I ll definitely disappear from your website for my mental peace as wellโœŒ๏ธ๐Ÿ•Š๏ธ

Please Don’t ignore please
Answer of my proposal,
I hope you ll respect or believe in humanity or individuality you ll definitely give response of my proposal.


(Unfortunately) Most of the times it is profit that creates Wealth and not “value”. People who really create “Value” are never wealthy. Mother’s, housewives, “essential workers”.

I asked my mother what she wants for her anniversary day. And she said a holiday. The idea of leisure for the working class is a joke. Your essay is good for motivating aspirants aspiring to serve the working class. But Sir, isn’t it inherently flawed. To me, it somehow sounded like legitimizing this whole idea of commercialising time.

There is this philosopher Byung Chul Han, who talks of how Capitalism has moderated the present society as an achievement society as compared to the discipline society of the 20th century. It’s a great read. ๐Ÿ™‚