The post title that will change your world

If you haven't already guessed it, the post title is meant to be tongue-in-cheek. 

 

But in all seriousness, has anyone else noticed the way writing has changed over the past few years?  In the age of smartphones and more consumable content than we could ever possibly digest, our attention spans have increasingly decreased.  We want tiny bits, pithy--no, more like ironic and clever--blurbs that make us sound smart and interesting, but we do not want to undertake the intellectual labor of reading to understand anything on a deep level.


We need soundbites, not essays.

 

We want fast, black-and-white answers, not complicated and contextual solutions.

 

We prefer bouncing from image to video to gif to comic strip, not sitting with a concept for a sustained period of time.

 

But what about all of the material that does not easily fit into the format of quickly consumable bits?  I catch myself skimming novels now because I have trained myself to work through thousands of pages of weekly reading for graduate school, to scan online articles relying merely on headings and topic sentence, to search for bolded text, images, and white space to navigate writing pieces.

I came across this piece the other day about rewriting famous literature titles so that they would be more click-able.  What a shame, I thought as I opened the link.  And how true! Titles matter (and in fact, I hate crafting one that is fitting) but not to the extent that we now esteem them.  After all, titles are supposed to call you into a journey, a process, of exploration, discovery, and illumination that is found best by reading, not scanning.

I am one of those minimalist voices now, I suppose.  I crave a world where there is less--less to read, less information to share, less stuff to buy, less (unnecessary) work to do--but more depth and meaning.  I want to slow down and savor rather than operate on warp speed all the time.  I worry about how technology is changing us and hope that we will take a moment to reflect on how it shapes us, not so that we uncritically reject it all, but so that we decide how we embrace, how we adapt to, and how we resist some of its advances.

But if I said that up front, would anyone have read this post?

Emily Rowell Brown