At work I get really excited when a 3-line photo caption says exactly what I want it to say. Not too many words; not too few. Some nugget of info not found in the story. A little extra something to make you say, “hm. I’m glad I read that.”
We live in content. (Even those of you who don’t make content for a living.)
Think about it: emails, blogs, Facebook, magazines, TV, newspapers, papyrus codices and the like…, we absorb a lot of content every day. And how much of it makes you glad that you read it? Probably not a whole lot. Much of web content (and some print, too) seems rushed and spewed and unconsidered. Surrounded by so many sloppy words, I feel more and more how much good writing matters.
A few weeks ago I read a little review of The Mountain Goats’ new album, written by NPR’s Stephen Thompson (who also introduced us to “Lovin’s For Fools” in February, you may recall). His description of the lead singer showed me that well-crafted thoughts aren’t always containable in 140-characters or less.
“Once a wild man whose shouted white-knuckle screeds could barely be contained by the crummy boom boxes on which he recorded them, Darnielle has aged into a singing poet whose words still hit like punches.”
I read this sentence over and over and over. I loved it so much, in fact, that I wanted to tweet it, but it’s too long.
Aha, I said.
Our culture needs NPR (and PBS, and AmeriCorps, and Planned Parenthood, but I digress) for moments like these.
Beauty and truth and wisdom take time. They take resources. They are WORTH IT. They are nourishment. Our culture is truncated without them. I don’t want my mind to inhabit a purely 140-character world.
After the Oscars, I struggled to find original writing on the web. So much blogging is recycled re-reviews…even from good sources. The Week quotes The Atlantic quoting The New York Times in Oscar coverage, and I’m left feeling unfulfilled.
Taking a break from social media is a nice detox for my mind. Resetting my filter for content that matters and content that I can afford to miss. To quote a phrase I no doubt heard once upon a time in youth group: abstinence makes the heart grow fonder.
Dear Facebook & Twitter: I miss you, but I’ll come back soon. And when I do, please just point me toward good writing that’s worth my time. xo