Monday, January 21, 2013

A small thought

In days gone past, the volume of one's writing or correspondence was important. People loved getting personal letters that ran for pages, and poems ran for line after line after line.

Now we pride ourselves on fitting communications into 140 characters, or even less if you know the right abbreviations. When was the last time you looked at an e-mail and was glad it was 5 pages long? When you research something on the Internet, don't you skip over the articles that have 10 pages of material in favor of something that is summarized in one or two screens? When did haiku become the "cool" form of poetry?

Somewhere along the way we lost the ability to appreciate longer communications. No one writes letters anymore - heck, most of us barely skim the Christmas letters we receive each winter, so why would anyone bother to write more? We read the first few sentences of facebook status updates, rarely clicking the link to see the whole message unless those first few lines are either shocking or funny. Heck, even audiobooks now have a feature that lets you listen to them at twice or three times their normal speed. For shame, Audible, for shame.

I don't really have a point or a manifesto or anything based on this. I'm not going to run out and write 7-page letters to all of my facebook friends (hell, I don't know half of their addresses, anyway). But it is something worth thinking about next time you dash off a one-line tweet, or try to condense a message to fit in a text. Is this really the way this message deserves to be shared? Or is your zippy approach to it going to just lead to a string of clarifications and explanations going forward? Is this something you might need to devote a little more time, space, and attention to doing right?


Janblogger said...
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Janblogger said...

I save longer stuff for blogs and pinterest and keep the short, functional comments to FB and text messages. Hopefully the temptation to abbreviated thoughts and actions gets it's proper place and the meatier communiques get to exist in the new formats as people become more comfortable with them.

Only-Mama said...

I was talking with a writing friend on Friday about how Facebook kills off the desire to write, and wrote a blog about that related topic last night.

Your point- short attention span America- is totally valid. I would go further to say that I now think in short text- or Facebook-sized thoughts.