A picture is worth a thousand words, but none of them worth reading.

More often than not, a picture’s just one or two words repeated a thousand times; words like ‘garble’ and ‘hullabaloo,’ pretty enough to look at, but not remotely quality prose.

I’m wondering if the art of the written word (slash blogging) is falling to the likes of Tumblr and Twitter and Flickr and other things that make you go ‘er.’ Why say in a thousand words what you can say in one-hundred-and-forty characters? Or in a picture?

Well, you’re not saying the same things, are you? You’re just spitting them quickly enough that viewers might not click away. And that’s the word, too, ‘viewers.’ One does not read a tweet or a tumblr, they witness it. Then walk on, changed or unchanged.
No one has the time to feel any more. I’m the same way: any where I am I’m thinking about where else I could be. I play games while watching a movie, and if I see a loading screen I pick up a book. It’s sick. My attention’s gone.

It goes past media intake as well, since of course I’m writing this as a distraction from the editing that I should be doing. All while listening to music and checking my email as though it didn’t notify me when it comes. I’m well-aware there’s a diagnosis in place for the easily-distracted, but I don’t think it has as much to do with brain chemistry as it does with the shape of modern life.

There’s just too much going on. The world is big and it’s only going to get bigger as technology brings better awareness of those around us. You have to stay active to keep up, and everything has its limits, so interest runs out.

Attention is becoming a rarer and rarer prey, and those of us hunting it face problems we wouldn’t have imagined years ago. We have to carefully place explosions and laser-fights, and even those need to be more interesting than those other laser-fights the viewer might have already seen. Words, especially many words in quick succession, become quite dull in comparison.

We need to add pictures, then make those pictures move, then make them move in ways they never have before, and do it all within the viewers ten-second attention span.

Sometimes this is great. I love laser-fights and flashing images. We keep one-upping the generation before, adding special effects and interest, but won’t that eventually get boring too?
What happens when we tire of excitement?
Maybe we’ll start reading again.

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One thought on “A picture is worth a thousand words, but none of them worth reading.

  1. Mom and I just saw “The Artist,” which filled our hearts with wonder and love as we laughed, cried, and knew perfectly well when the actor was actually wearing black and white and when his jacket was brown. When we left, Mom said, “Why do people want to see those movies with all those things exploding and loud noises when they could watch a movie like this?” I guess you have figured it out. But maybe the fact that a silent movie in black and white has legs at the multiplex is a good sign.

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