Too Long, Didn’t Read
Posted by Alan Edwards
One of those Rules of Blogging that I never bother to follow is about post length. Supposedly, blog posts are supposed to be 400-600 words in length (that’s a total guess. I hate research. There’s this dude in my brain who looks like me and works like me, and when I wonder shit like “hey, what’s the ‘rule’ about post length again? How long?” the little Me looks up from the game he was playing or book he was reading or whatever he does when I don’t ask him shit and shrugs, takes a random guess at something someone in Memory once heard about, and goes back to what he’s doing. I should give him a raise. He’s my kinda guy.). The reason? People don’t have time to read anything longer than that. Anything after word 601 is just a blur of text that makes people feel all swoony. So unless they can see the end of the post from there, it’s too much. They have to stop reading RIGHT THEN. Some of those people are kind enough to warn the poor, misguided blogger that they’ve become a health menace, and so they take the time from their incredibly fast-paced, meaningful lives to comment on the post. Some will say Too Long, Didn’t Read – but that takes too much time to write. So instead, it’s become TL/DR.
And no, this isn’t a joke.
I mean, it is a joke, but I’m not making this up. It’s a real thing. There are really and truly asshats out there that bitch about the fact that content they can choose to read or not, that costs them nothing to access, is too long. I don’t have any statistics handy for measuring how long it takes the average person to read something and I sure as fuck ain’t lookin’ it up but it can’t take that long. What, 5 minutes, tops? 5 fucking minutes. And there are people who feel like it’s necessary to COMMENT on a fucking post to let the person know they didn’t read it. I find this unbelievable. Like, I honestly didn’t believe it at first. But it’s apparently A Thing. A real thing.
What the fuck are these people? Mayflys that suddenly developed the ability to type? Is their fucking lifespan so short that it’s EAT MATE DIE, only they’re trying to slip in an blog post about macrame before they die? And if they aren’t cursed with a 24-hour lifespan, what the fuck is the matter with them? Seriously. Think about it. They’re on the internet reading a blog. By fucking definition they’re wasting their time. They are intentionally diverting themselves from doing something more productive, then bitching about the fact that someone gave them too much to read. It boggles my fucking mind. I just finished Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen last night. 10 books with serious heft (and yet written in a reasonable span of time. No Jordanning or RR’ing it). Over 1.5 million words. I paid for that privilege, happily. And yet there are douchey little fucktards out there that think they can be the goddamn Internet Police and inform people that what they’ve written is too much for their precious little cerebellums to process.
So, right now, I’m supposed to be done. The end of this sentence is word #551. Fuckin’-a, it takes me this long to get warmed up.
I’ve heard people say that they have a lot of blogs they try to keep up with, and when they see long posts they don’t bother. I find that really fucking stupid, but whatever. Because I don’t think the problem is with the word length. It’s the fact that the blog isn’t interesting enough to hold their attention span for longer than two minutes. It’s not the length. It’s the content or the writer. But they’re afraid to say that. So instead, it’s Too Long, Didn’t Read. Although why you’d go out of your way to still demean the writer’s effort by smugly dismissing what they have to say BEFORE YOU EVEN HEAR IT instead of indicating that you weren’t interested is beyond me. I know the internet makes plenty of people 92.8% More Asshole, but that’s still a fucking bullshit thing to say.
Initially, I was going to make this post about 500 words long, just for the ironic juxtaposition of having one of the few blog posts I’ve written to fall within the Acceptable Guidelines entitled Too Long, Didn’t Read. Nice idea, but I segue too much for that. And that’s OK. In fact, I believe it’s fucking mandatory. Do you know how many blogs I read that are concise, clipped declarative statements that focus on one narrow subject or idea and then stop?
Fucking none. Not one of them. If I want to read something devoid of personality or relevance, I’ll pick up a USA Today. The blogs I read are well-written and not afraid to take the time to make their point. I get sad when I come to the end of a good post, because it’s over and I’m forced back into shuffling through the standard run of websites I look at in hopes of a moment’s distraction. I don’t care what the fucking Rules say.
And you know what? Who made up these fucking rules to begin with? Who the fuck is dictating to anyone how long their blogs should be? Why? Who the fuck elected those douchebags to tell us what to do in the first place? Do writers not have enough anxiety about their work that they need to acquiesce to a bunch of bullshit rules as to how long their own fucking writing can be just so they can stress out over the fucking LENGTH? It’s not like blogging has been around for centuries, and that these rules are necessary for human fucking civilization to flourish. Probably, some self-important cock-in-the-mouth decided that This Shall Be So, and had enough little sycophantic ass-lickers to follow him (or her) around and tell him (or her) how right he (or she) was. Every time I see an article or post by someone talking about How to Blog or How to Use Twitter I read them carefully. I want to make sure that I don’t do a single fucking thing they do. Why? Because rules are for suckers. I can’t write like they do, and why try to? Plus, if every single blogger on the face of the earth all decides to write One Certain Way, then I stand out from the crowd. Sure, it might be for being a foul-mouthed dick with anger management issues and serious diarrhea of the keyboard, but fuck, you gotta stand out somehow, right?
Oh, and anyone who says that the “Rule” is in place to teach writers the importance of concision, my answer is this: suck my balls. Concision is the most overrated fucking thing in writing ever. I blame Hemingway. That fucker couldn’t write an interesting story to save his ass, and for some reason everyone jumped onto his jock about cutting unnecessary words. He became the fucking Gold Standard for writing. “Cut it to the bone,” they say. Fuck you, I answer. I like meat. I like the little edge of fat that runs along the steak. The skin is the best fucking part of fried chicken. Why in the fuck would I settle for the bone? So the next person I see that references that bullshit in front of me is going to get a foot planted squarely into his happy sacs.
For the record, no one has ever TL/DR’ed me. Probably because, until recently, no one read the damn thing. I only hear about it, the Great Big Fucking Boogeyman of blog writers. My blog is a prime candidate for it. If I write something less than 800 words, I feel like I’m cheating my readers. Tossing them a fucking gnawed-on bone with nothing to really chew over. I don’t like that feeling. I was asked to write a guest post for Steven Montano’s site (goes up tomorrow!). It was just shy of 2,000 words. He asked me for something, and I wanted to give him something good. I can’t do good in 400-600 words. It’s impossible.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to write Herman Melville’s estate that Moby Dick was too long, and that I didn’t read it. That’ll show ‘im.
About Alan EdwardsAn indie writer who does accounting full-time on the side.
Posted on June 21, 2011, in Rantin' and Bitchin' and tagged Annoying Things, It's About Platform People. Or Is It Brand? I Can Never Remember, RAGE, So META!, Speechifyin', Whining. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.