Follow-Up: You Won’t Read All of This

Last month, I wrote that a powerful incentive for writers to write less is that readers don’t want to read very much. Specifically, I said that less is better because:

  • Most people don’t read—they skim.
  • Most people don’t pay attention for very long.

  • Writers are competing for readers’ attentions.

One of the strategies websites use to overcome their readers’ short attention spans and increase page views is to deliver articles in list format. Cracked.com, Buzzfeed and Thought Catalog all excel at getting people perusing Facebook and Twitter to click on links like “The 10 Types of People You Meet in Prison”. As it turns out, even featuring articles with such titillating titles as “6 Bizarre Uses for Mouthwash” doesn’t guarantee readers will get all the way to #6. Hootsuite performed an experiment, in which it took a post called “5 Content Marketing Tips We Learned From Our Best-Performing Content” and surreptitiously added a sixth “lesson” that explicitly asked readers not to share the post on social media.

Guess what happened. (Or you could just read about it…)

Kurt Vonnegut

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The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.

A Man Without a Country

Spitting Game: Baseball’s Love Affair with Saliva

Black and White Baseball
I’m of two minds on the curious habit of spitting. On the one hand, it’s essentially harmless. Spittle is biodegradable, unlike say, plastic bags, nuclear waste or Ann Coulter’s black heart. It may stain the sidewalk for a few seconds, but it’ll be gone by day’s end, unlike that empty bag of Utz potato chips lying 5 feet away from the garbage can.

On the other hand, spitting is the act of a person who says, “Cigarette smoke–you may stay. Arby’s barbeque beef–welcome to my stomach. $5 liquor from the corner store–have you met my liver? But you, accumulation of saliva, deserve no place in my body.”

Because, really, is spitting all that necessary? Continue reading