As disheartening as it is to admit, I know that many “readers” don’t actually read, at least online. Still, until recently, no editor ever encouraged me to write for the skimming, scanning, browsing, not-actually-reading “reader.”
As a rule, I try to forget these “readers” when I write — despite knowing full well that they’re out there, members of a breed that is not only real, but recruiting and rapidly reproducing. Instead, I keep writing for true readers — the ones who don’t skip sentences or paragraphs and who stick around for the final word.
But maybe I’ve been doing it wrong all along.
Apparently, u no longer have the time or patience 4 full sentences & u’ve lost all appreciation 4 proper grammar & punctuation. U do, however, appreciate the use of bold, italicized, underlined, CAPITALIZED abbrs & of course
- lists, and
- bullet points,
as they minimize reading time and draw attn 2 what REALLY MATTERS.
As for everything in between, eds (and some studies I read about somewhere once) seem to agree that u don’t care. If only I’d known sooner, I could’ve saved countless hours spent pondering the use of a given adjective or article or apostrophe. Admittedly though, old habits die hard: I just wasted at least five seconds searching for another “a” word, forgetting u won’t appreciate the attempt at alliteration. Filler, filler, filler.
U prefer CliffsNotes (originally Cliff’s Notes, then shortened 2 Cliffs Notes, then again 2 this updated, frthr-abbr title). And not just for Infinite Jest or Ulysses — but for the kind of stuff I’m writing now. Yes, “stuff.” No need for precision. It’s not like ur taking note.
LOOK, A VIDEO CLIP!
And who reads 7th ¶s anyway? Having just used the word “anyway” in the prior paragraph, I’d normally choose another one, but again, it’s not like ur reading this anyway. Goo-goo ga-ga, gobbledygook.
One literate ed. I know just began cracking down on bloggers who dared post pieces ovr 300wrds. No doubt this was in an attempt to increase traffic to her particular news outlet’s site. Still, it seems EXTREME. Wait! Check out the side bar! It’s those shoes u considered buying yesterday on Amazon but didn’t. Or was it eBay? Or Zappos?
Perhaps u shld CLICK NOW TO BUY!
Slate published a fascinating piece by Farhad Manjoo last yr, complete w/ data & histograms, about how people “read” online, but as the headline suggests, “Won’t Finish...”. It’s long. TWO WHOLE PAGES! U have to click “NEXT” and wait 4 the 2nd page to load. It’s worth knowing about, but not actually reading.
I’m already at 434 “words.” And to stay w/in many online news outlets’ commonly preferred 500wrd limit for guest commentaries, I shld wrap this up — ideally w/ a pithy one-liner that’ll make u want 2 follow me on Twitter & BUY MY BOOK, which will make u richer, smarter and thinner w/o working, thinking or moving! But no space.