TLDR, 4 gruesome letters that are the digital equivalent of a teenager shrugging and walking away in the middle of an epic speech (or regular nag-a-thon) recited by a parental unit. It’s a sign of the time. Whenever we are presented with information that grows beyond a certain volume, our micro sized attention spans switch off and go looking for the next picture of a fluffy cat on the internet.
There, in one paragraph I have completely summarized the problem Bloggers are facing today TLDR: Too long, Didn’t read. Since we have been scrolling vertically through Twitter feeds, Instagram pictures, Facebook posts and Linkedin updates our ability (or should I say ‘interest’) to go through large blocks of text has slowly started to erode away. We want our stuff fast in easy to consume small byte sized blocks. Perferably 140 characters or less.
For writers this is a challenge: Imagine being Marten Luther King, but only getting 30 seconds to deliver your ‘I have a dream’ speech before the crowd wanders off to play Pokemon or scroll Reddit. There just isn’t enough time to get the message across.
Results ? You cut corners. Condense arguments, leave out supporting information or even facts altogether. If that still isn’t enough its time for an provocative headline, or some ye-old click-bait. And if your content just isn’t cut out for this? Tough, they have already scrolled past your post and are looking at cat video’s.
“Well, you will just have to write better material then” That is the general response you get to when you lament the problem. But should we really do that? Some stories or arguments should not be broken up into 140 characters, they should be told with all the facts or with views from both sides of the fence. The constitution wasn’t written on a post-it either. So what to do ?
Write better, snappier sentences, short paragraphs, leave in plenty of whitespace and some interesting funky examples and emphatic visual analogies the reader can relate to. That should do the trick. But what if they still don’t make it to the 3rd paragraph?
I’m thinking of exchanging the written medium for video or audio. If you don’t have the time/interest to ‘read’ something, perhaps you would like to “listen’ to it instead. The “Storytime” podcasts have always been a big favorite of my community, “Reading out” a lengthily blogpost in a gripping audio-recording does make for some interesting reading. Perhaps a video recording using an autocue to read out the text ? Would that help?
I leave you to ponder (if your eyeballs ever make it down here) the question of TLDR. Should we continue to starve our attention spans with small bite sized information? Do we want to live off ever smaller growing pieces of content? Shorter blogposts, video’s, podcasts? Do we nibble our way trough the all-you-can-eat buffet of the blogosphere ? Is it TLDR or TLDC (Too long, don’t Care).