The need for medium-form writing

Marketing & Writing

Big Tech has wired our brains to be dependent upon them for a dopamine hit every few minutes.

Slow down and let that sink in.

If you’re reading this post, to some degree, you are a product that has been created by these companies in order to sell to their advertisers. An indisputable fact.

One of my friends, Vincent, recently posted a fantastic perspective on this issue. He said:

For so many years, I hated social media. I was only on it because I felt like I needed to be on it. A necessary evil, as they say. And then a friend said to me they hated it because the content on social media was low quality and nothing but a cesspool. And it made me think. Are we contributing to the cesspool of mindless self promotion and empty calorie content? Or are we creating content to make it- and others- better?

He’s right.

What is needed is more original thinking. We can make this a better place. A place where everyone contributes. Although the “machine” has wired us to need their dopamine hits, we can take steps to actively limit that influence.

Sure—one obvious thing is to delete social media from your phone. I support that and do it from time to time in phases.

But another way to combat this problem is to be part of the solution. That’s ultimately what Vincent landed on. And that’s what I’ve landed on too.

Many prefer to watch videos these days. But video is not always the best medium. You can’t really skim video. It also takes a commitment of time and focus. Audio is good, of course, but it’s really best to be on in the background.

Old fashioned writing is the best of both worlds. It requires focus, but it demands focus in a way that video doesn’t, meaning you can get through it faster. But if you make it skimmable (shorter paragraphs, headings if possible, smaller words, etc), even better.

My favorite social media posts to read personally are the ones where you can tell the writer has put time and effort into it. It signals to me they care about what they’re saying and have probably thought through it.

But let’s be honest, it’s also difficult to read a 2500 word blog post these days. So I think the middle ground is medium form writing, about 300-600 words. Somewhere in that range is the sweet spot.

This post is currently at about 430 words. It’s taken about 10 minutes to write so far. Not a huge commitment of time, but it’s something I’ve thought about a lot, and hopefully you find this to be a relatively thoughtful and honest take on a real issue we have.

So in short, my specific opinion is that we could clean up so many of our social feeds with medium-form written pieces about the things we care about. History — and the future — belongs to the writers. It’s always been that way.

In 100 years, I truly don’t think people will be remembered for the videos they made. But I think they’ll still be reading some of our books. Writing has a power to it that other mediums don’t have. It’s a skill worth learning and practicing.

Food for thought.

Jun 4, 2024

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