Whyyyyy?

0.0.01

Why would anyone write couple-of-pages-long article? In the 21st century?

Who would actually read it? What a waste of time!

The information age boasts with zillions of bytes of data floating among end-users. It lays obligation on all of us, to develop skills to process that information. To adjust, to adapt, to change. Did anyone notice reversal in usual notation: Instead of creating technology that serves us, helps us to save energy/time/space/material, makes our life better, we have to adjust to its limitations or excesses. The presence of the technology is assumed with worshiping certainty, the justification for its demands not questioned, almost as if it was a living entity. A being that fills the void left by God from previous ages? Cock-sure rationalist cover-up for "erased" religious mindset.

We have to read hundreds of messages daily, politely filter out through "relevant" information that dozens of friends throw at us, we have to read quickly, superficially, get to the point immediately. The added value? We are "informed". Are we? About what? How does it help us? Is "the point" actually the point of passing the information? "The point" often is just a simplification that actually distorts the information, spreads incorrect knowledge, makes people referring to that piece of data to decide wrongly. What for would be books and movies, if any piece of information could be put in one sentence? Game of Thrones could be summed up as "John Snow is the good guy, Cersei Lannister is the bitch, they fight, many people die, politics are bad thing." Who and why would watch it? Why would it be shot? Selling ads? Why would the spectator agree to spend 100 hours with it? Being brief, you’d omit many other main and supporting characters, plot twists, complexity of characters, their development, complexity of politics, human dimension to the cold-blooded decisions, evolving towards certain stances. While scientific data can be shared in equations and tables, the emotional background of situations and motivations needs to be experienced through stories. Story-telling is a medium tied to time.

The technologies that were supposed to save time and energy actually leave us exhausted and having less time. We spend it earning for gadgets, assembling them, tuning them, customizing them and of course shoveling all the scraps of information they brings to our attention. It sometimes really takes more time dealing with gadgets, applications, sites – then going to the library at the other end of town. All the technology runs on juice that costs money, so it has to live off the ads, clicks, presence – so it needs to make us hang on longer. We spend so many hours searching, clicking buttons, watching animations, images, reading unrelated texts – each time when we need just a little piece of useful information that takes a second to take in.

Students asking teacher: Write a lecture in one sentence.
Reader asking writer: Write a book in one paragraph.

Transitional generation (between age of books and age of web; between physical toil/joys/experience and virtualization) is still able to see it: How much time do you spend outdoors and how much time do you read messages and mails searching for people to go outdoor with, talking about how it is being outdoors with people who will never do it, planning to go outdoors, shopping for tools to go out with, or browsing of endless inspiring imagery of people actually being outdoors? When were you last time listening to music you like – instead of chatting with people you will never meet, or responding to trivial "nice" and "cool" and "funny" messages with zero added value from your friends? But we are shy to point it out - since it is immediately classified as anti-technological, conservative, as a conspiracy theory.

"This is not a talking tool. Don’t bore me with literature."

The quantity creates overload – and that naturally leads towards overwhelm, distaste, rejection. Thus exacerbating the need for brief and concise tweets, memes, gifs. We have adapted to this ourselves, indeed: Our attention span does not cover more than a couple of seconds. Even for living people in live contact. We have no time to assess evidence, evaluate the contradictory opposites, search for multiple perspectives, hear the story behind randomly selected facts, build up towards the point, embrace natural complexity of life. We simplify so anxiously – to the extent that we are now being able to process only simple information - becoming simple minded, shallow, superficial, unfocused, bored – which at the end paradoxically complicates and not simplifies things. We have to live and deal with our simple and misinformed kind.

The world based on tweets and instant messages is quite distorted. It appears magnificent in quantity, though it’s just a mass of banalities, trivia, reposts, politeness, wasted time and resources: "-Hi. -Hi. -How are you? -Good. -What are you doing? -Chatting with you." The overall informed-ness of the community is low or even lower than if at least couple of its members would read whole, complex, real background on the topic. The truncated information stumps are just opinions – "I think this!" (no space for arguments, evidence, considerations, refutations, seeing thing from the other sides perspective) and "I disagree." (Just because I don’t like your opinion, your social label, your hair) And "I follow you" (I believe everything you say regardless of the fact I agreed with you only once in the past on one particular thing) and "You are a bitch/hippie/nationalist/fascist/leftist/communist/poof!" (let’s throw a random label to make others dislike you). This habit roots in culture built on fierce competition, obsession with 15 minutes of fame, i.e. being popular, seen, liked, "liked", the one laughed with not laughed at, being on top, dominating, … and results in state when no one cares to know or grasp or think through anything, everyone just has or likes opinions.

Those who are bored with people who write more than one sentence often are really uninterested in other people and what they have to say. In subconscious competitive frenzy they wish to monopolize the conversation, to enforce their view, … we can speculate if perhaps panicking because they hold image of not being heard themselves. The fact is, the boredom with the others quite probably stems in similitude of all those brief conversation. They are almost identical. "Hi. Hi." - sounds always the same. They carry no information value. They just repeat what we are used to, what is safe, predictable, easy to react to with dictionary-like template responses. Bored to death with "What’s up? Nothing new." - they try to "escape" it through increasing frequency of these exchanges, instead of giving them any content – which they actually fear and anxiously avoid.

Pretense and honesty

I hear people dislike writing (and reading) also because they consider it dishonest. Full of pretense, bolder than real life, fluffy, ornamental and thus deceptive. Because they "can’t see the person saying it." Not sure where this superstition comes from. Why talking culture has a reputation of "realness" and honesty, while books are "pretentious"? Though, it is equally possible to disguise and mislead through spoken word, as it is with writing. From the other side - some people eloquent in writing can feel stressed, hapless, paralyzed when having to speak – to the interrupting listener or the impatient audience. That does not mean they are not right, or carry no valuable knowledge. Of course, writing does not carry tone, face-expression, complex body language. And those perceptions matter – but to limited extent.

In this regard, from experience I notice there are two types of personalities – verbal and non-verbal. Those who feel natural in live performance – can get more, evaluate better, see through the speaker - via this channel. It’s their medium of communication. Of course, they can conceive their own sharing easily as well, they can present it fancifully employing their acting/performer talent, to manipulate the receiver. It’s their medium of domination. The writing must be quite unpleasant experience for this personality – they can’t interrupt, divert conversation, change topic, fool through self-presentation, expressions, controlling the mood, winning the audience – they have to listen, to everything (!), till the speaker/writer finishes his thought. Poor creatures have to listen till the end of the book!. Even exchange writing (letters, now mails) happens in a rhythm: I say & you listen - pause for thinking - you say & I listen. I have a chance to say what I want, how I want, in the extent it needs, using the methods it needs, arranging it properly to say what I want to say and not to blurt something out in stress, before the other person breaks in.

The conversation is a form of battle – especially in society built upon paradigm of competition and wrestle. Performing and dominating – that’s how we are raised. The content is often irrelevant, while the presentation sells. For some, "who will win and who will lose" (often in terms of winning the audience) matters more than who is right, who has done more research, who’s arguments make more sense.

The most developed concept of information sharing is talking-circles (and heart-circles), when only the person holding talisman speaks, considerate but not overwhelmed by the time limitations and struggle for attention. Everyone listens. Everyone is heard. Even the shiest voice can offer a breakthrough idea. Even the last standing dissenter may be right. Often, passing of the information is not a matter of this side or that side, defending or opposing, defeating or prevailing – but seeing from all the perspectives, hearing all the points of view, sum of all our experience with a particular topic.

There is a place (purpose, point, meaning) for books, for letters, for live talk, for talking circles, one on ones, presentations, essays. They are not obsolete. Tweets will not replace them. At best they can complement them.

Now compare what would your immediate reaction be if you read just a facebook summary: "Writing is still useful and irreplaceable method of communication. It is good because it allows "speaker" to be precise, complete, say what he wants to say, correct himself before sending out the information, without stress or fighting for word, speaking time and dominance. People who think writing is dishonest have probably honesty issue themselves – they prefer cheating in speaking, where they feel strong and can take over. People who think short messages, post and tweets will replace sharing complex thoughts are degenerated or bewitched by religiously venerated technology." Would you be offended? Would you revolt in disagreement? Would you care to find why I think so? Would you just scroll down? Next!