Sunday, May 04, 2014

I Used To Have A Blog

I have a bachelor's degree in radio and television production. One of the jobs I actually held in this field was doing video production for the advertising department of the local cable company. We were a small market so there was one sales person and two production... eh... specialists. Not only were we responsible for shooting and editing the commercials, we were often called upon to conceptualize, write and even narrate the spots. After two years I became quite adept at cramming a lot of information into thirty seconds.

It took me a long time to break that habit. It's one of the reasons I started a blog. I didn't really want to continue writing in a style that embraced direct information without detail and sometimes without context. If I were to continue, my prose would be very succinct. I give you an example:

Two families hated each other. A boy from one family and a girl from the other took a shine to each other. Because of the feud between the families they had to keep their love secret. The boy decided to fake his death so they could escape together. He tried to let her know it was fake but the message didn't get to her. When she saw him, thinking he was dead, she decided to take her own life to be with the boy she loved. He woke up from his fake death only to find her dead. In a moment of agony over what she'd done, he took his own life, for real this time, to be with her.

That's not a story. That's a plot summary. The point is, I worked hard to move away from that and got pretty good at documenting the mundane aspects of my life and commenting on things nobody really cared about. In other words, I became a blogger.

Then I joined facebook. I was a little weary of writing out long, explanatory posts and had been doing some drive-by blogging anyway. Facebook was a perfect venue in which to do that. I could post something brief and to the point and get, hopefully, some simple and quick feed back about it.

Then there's Twitter. 140 characters to say whatever you have to say and that's it! It and texting have formed an entirely new language of shorthand. But, even more than facebook, it forces you to concentrate and compress your thoughts. You never really say anything, you just provide sound bytes without the sound.

Then came Vine. Six seconds. That's all you get. If you can speak fast or convey your thoughts through motion, you can cram in a little more than a tweet... but only a little.

Let's not even discuss snapchat.

Have you noticed that my paragraphs have been getting shorter?

It's been nine months since I posted anything here. I've been hanging out at facebook quipping about life, keeping up with friends, and "liking" pictures of cats. Nothing too deep. No stories, for sure. It's a drive-by blog fest. It seems that each new technology we're obsessed with maintaining the attention of the severely-afflicted ADD sufferer. We want to get our words in before they have a chance to notice that squirrel. (go ahead, I wait while you watch him scamper up the tree).

... ... ... ... ... ... ...

Is he gone? Okay, let's continue. ... ... what was I saying? Oh, yes, writing with substance.

I don't think, even after nearly eleven years of blogging, that I've ever completely eschewed the postcard prose I so easily adapted to. I mean, break down this post. I have short paragraphs, I have visual and thematic breaks, my sentences become terse, and even now my brain is trying to figure out how to say what I'm actually thinking and get this one in the can.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that social media, in its call for, and even restriction to, brevity is destroying our - or mine, at the very least - ability to tell stories. Sure, we can get our point across in six seconds, 140 characters, or a post designed to be read in its entirety as the screen is scrolling by, but we don't tell the stories. We don't give the details. We don't provide depth.

But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief,
That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she.
Be not her maid, since she is envious;
Her vestal livery is but sick and green
And none but fools do wear it; cast it off.
It is my lady, O, it is my love!
Oh, that she knew she were!

That boy's in love! No doubt.

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