Twice in the last week, I’ve had to reduce things I’ve written at work to make it as compact as possible, having to cater to readers who apparently ‘switch off’ if what they have to read is more than a few paragraphs.
Although I understand the importance of conciseness in certain kinds of communications, sometimes it just irritates me how much a writer has to cater to readers that supposedly can’t be bothered when they have to read something a little longer than a brief note.
OK, I admit I can be a bit wordy at times, and that may not suit every reader. But, that aside, what bugs me is this acceptance of the idea that we shouldn’t write longer communications, articles, etc, because people won’t read them.
Why should a writer simply accept that things should be ‘short and sweet’, and anything else is not going to be as effective?
Do people really think in bullet points nowadays? Do audiences just want the information in as brief a format as possible, neatly packaged so that they can be done with it in a minute or two?
Do people no longer appreciate the ‘padding’ that surrounds the main information? An introduction that draws you in; a paragraph that tries to empathise with you; a conclusion that tries to leave you on a high note?
I think that TV and other forms of passive entertainment have played a huge role in the decline of reading, and maybe the average person has become intolerant of having to read for more than a few minutes.
But, I ask you, is this really the way we want ourselves to be thought of?
As impatient individuals who want their information, and want it NOW. And: “if you’re going to ‘waffle on’ with your words and words and words, you’re just wasting my time.”