When to Cut It Down

I cannot count the times I have heard a fellow student, friend, co-work, or stranger on the street say, “This is too long!” when responding to content in a brochure, article, newspaper, etc, and decided the information is not important enough to read. In fact, I am ashamed to say, I have said this many times myself. Even while being guilty of this, I do take the position that it is the readers responsibility to engage and examine longer works; however, I do not see this as a legitimate reality. By this I mean it is not a reality for readers not only take responsibility, but also act upon that responsibility. The attention span of the overall public–being extremely short– seems to overrule the readers responsibility and forces the creator to chose to fight against the reality or succumb to it.

Creators now have to decided whether to have their composition viewed by concentrating the content and shorting the readable information, or “fighting the good fight” and publishing a longer work. It seems that the choice would be based off of the necessity the information and demographic of the intended audience. If the
information is vital to the public good or knowledge, the creator will have to take the attention span into consideration. For example, it would be virtually useless to publish a multiple page document, wordy brochure, or text heavy website for disseminating information about Ebola to the public. Though the information is seen as important and desired, it would not be absorb by the reader due to the lack of concentrated information. In this case, a simplified and direct format would be best for the dissemination, perhaps bullet points, short video, or images based information.

I have discovered a download from Google Chrome that will summarize long articles down to a few sentences automatically. I believe this reflects on the current generation. We are not only in need of fast delivery of information, we need the information condensed to such a degree so to absorb only the basic facts and move on to the next. Is the a positive characteristic or negative? Are we efficient and “hyper-productive, ” or are we missing a elements of information?  Does this have an affect on social skills and personal relationships?

4 thoughts on “When to Cut It Down”

  1. I believe this might affect our social skills and personal interactions in the way we come across to people. Still, everyone has their limitations. It is always a great idea to know when to stop and also when you feel that something will feel like an hassle to an individual. We as people have very short attention span and while I enjoying paying attention to little details it definitely would take a lot for me to be fully engrossed in something. If it is too long, I certainly won’t want to read it at all but I may glance through it. Also, if it isn’t catchy then it most definitely won’t have my full attention. We should know when to cut information down. Get to the basics, no stalling, and everyone would love to immerse themselves in whatever information is being passed across.

  2. I understand what you’re saying, but I’m not entirely sure that I agree about it being the reader’s responsibility to read through massive texts for the few facts they’re trying to find. Personally, I feel that writers should flesh out their pieces, but only if the extra length adds depth. A lot of the time, when I’m trying to find something out, I need the information for something quickly. There are times when the reader needs the information, but there’s filler that makes it harder to find. Sure, I will agree that people can be lazy, but I don’t think this is usually the case. I could be wrong. More often than not, though, on online web forums, I see people participating in intelligent discussions (this entails them having read the text in the first place). Maybe I haven’t seen it, but it just doesn’t seem like it’s the norm for people to just read the tl;dr. However, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with those that do. As I said, there are instances where people need information in a very limited amount of time. If they don’t have the time to read the full article (assuming this is an article and not something else), the tl;dr might serve as sort of a “hook” to get them to read more about it later. If someone can’t find any information when they’re pressed for time, they might become apathetic and just not take the time to read about it at all.

  3. Also meant to add that context definitely matters. I sorta touched on it in my previous comment, but I think that there’s a special quality to works that are written in a succinct manner (at least in the realm of news). Having to skim through a lot of filler instead of being able to read a short, information-rich piece seems burdensome to me.

  4. I must agree with gknoop1 and respectfully disagree with assertion that it is the readers responsibility to engage and examine longer works. It is the authors responsibility to give the audience a reason to WANT to examine longer works. We live in an age where expressing ideas in the shortest way possible is important more than ever. When an authors sits down to create an artifact, it is his or her job to be aware of their audience and rhetorical situation, not the other way around. Why should I as the audience of a text feel obligated to engage in a long text, when I feel that its in my best interest to do otherwise. We live in the age of information, so most longer text that exist today have a shorter version somewhere. Now, if someone would like to call this form of thinking lazy is a matter of their opinion, but if authors are walking around believing that it is their audiences obligation to read through their extremely long text, they are sadly mistaken.

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