Friday, June 1, 2012

Gagging on snackability.

Of late, almost running hand-in-hand with the banal phrase "story-telling" is the adjective "snackable." We are meant to make content like a bag of mixed nuts or a mini-frankfurter. Easy to consume. Quick. And with no "barriers to entry." Pop a dozen snackables in your mouth. You'll be full, fat and happy.

In other words, make everything a munchable sound-bite. A "factoid," whatever the fuck a factoid is.

I have nothing against paring something to its most concise form. That's good and proper. It's fair and respectful to the viewer. But if anything is happening in the world, there are too many writers writing as Shakespeare's Polonius spoke. In a series of sententious maxims that almost always cannot stand up to anything that passes as scrutiny. They write with no depth. As Gertrude Stein once wrote (I think about Oakland), "there's no there there."

What too many clients are asking for, and too many writers are writing, is "the fortune-cookie-ization" of copy.

When I read I want to learn something of value.

I'm willing to do the work to get that value.

The best-selling author, ubiquitous blogger, and relentless self-promoter Seth Godin writes this on his blog this morning: "Is more always better? Sometimes, only better is better."

The writing equivalent of throwing up in your mouth. Keep your banalities to yourself.

I ran into Seth at the opera once. At John Adams' "Nixon in China." We chatted during the first intermission and he expressed his disappointed in the work. "It's my first opera," he said. "It doesn't have the sonic power I thought it would." Ten minutes later, the third act started and Godin was gone.

I guess the opera wasn't snackable.

1 comment:

rebrivved said...

The writers aren't the only ones to blame. Alas, we live in a 140-character world. So while I'm also a fan of long-form writing that educates, I'm sad to say very few such assignments have crossed my desk in recent years.