Do you know what this means? "TL, DR."
In Internet speak, it means "Too Long, Didn't Read." I had to Google it when I got blasted with these four letters after I posted a semi-wordy article on Facebook. It was meant as a joke, but let me tell you, these four letters have officially ruined my day.
Please read: now before I get into the meat of this article and my vendetta with the mentioned acronym, I have a feeling some people are already thinking about scrolling down this page, checking out the length of this article, and deciding if reading these many words are worth their time. Somebody call Alanis Morissette because irony is knocking on the door. All jokes aside, I'm trying to save communication and I need you to read and listen.
Okay, phew. You made it past the above word-hurdle.
Let me introduce myself. As acting Lieutenant of the Grammar Police, Northern California division, I pride myself in my ability to communicate and articulate my thoughts. Sometimes I am wordy (when I'm making a point -- like in this article), however, almost always, I try to be concise and to the point. Whatever the medium though -- through email, a Facebook post, or even a poem to my wife -- my writing has a specific tone, style and rhythm. I've never been able to stop my ideas from overflowing out of my brain like a river.
But today, I feel millions of people are stopping their ideas from flowing through platforms like Twitter. If you just woke up from the ice age, communication is now being done through @replies and #hasthtags in only 140 characters.
Here is an analogy: I imagine the human thought process like a German autobahn. Personally, when I get excited about a topic, my brain executes at 110 mph and I need a straightaway to let my ideas loose. The Huffington Post is a great autobahn. However, with Twitter, you now have to stop for toll every 140 characters. You are told you can only accelerate your mind in short bursts.
There is now a dam in the idea river.
The questions are endless: Is this the new way people are communicating? Is a "box of characters" liberating or a prison? Am I already a 29-year-old dinosaur? Am I already behind the curve? Am I not 2.0 -- or rather in this case -- 3.0? Are people exchanging ideas efficiently and effectively within these limitations?
Are too many words, too much?
Sigh. The answer is yes. Just this past year, Yahoo bought the company Summly for $30 million. If you don't know, this company was started by a now 17-year-old and its purpose is to allow a user to get a summary of an Internet article rather than having to read it. On the Summly website, they clearly state: "reading is tiresome."
Here's the deal: I'm afraid 20 years down the line, people won't know how to read nor know how to write. Communication will be dead and people will be talking in rebus puzzles and emoticons. Language will be a jumble of hieroglyphs, everyone will be fat, and then I guess this is the part where robots take over, right?
You see, I'm a storyteller. With attention spans diminishing, how does one tell a story? Human conversations are now turning into people talking to their phones in short surges and sparks. Maybe it's just me? Maybe I am a dinosaur on the verge of extinction? Maybe I need to switch my thought process and simply learn how to tell stories within these new ground rules? But they say you can't teach old dogs new tricks. And until I die, I'm going to unleash my river of ideas. I just hope there is still an audience for it.
Wait, is anyone still reading this?