I read a little booklet about Facebook and social media. I will be reviewing it next week. In it, the author suggested that an article online that exceeds 400 words may be passed over. I don't know about the accuracy of that statistic, but I can make a couple of observations.
When I began blogging, a popular blogger suggested that keeping a post to 1,000 words was a good idea. That was almost ten years ago. I think 1,000 words is pushing it today. I think the author who suggested 400 words may be closer to being correct. I wrot a post for Out of the Ordinary, and my first draft was over 1,200 words. There was no way I could post it at that length, but I was faced with a difficulty: could I do the topic justice in less than that?
I did my best, but there were things I wished I could have said. I could have done a "series" but the nature of our blog rather excludes that. "Series" on blogs are very popular. It seems as if we are reverting back to the time of Dickens, who first presented his writing in such a way. I think he would have laughed a great deal at the notion of one of his entries being only 400 words.
Another thing I have noticed is the fading attention spans of teens. Apparently, 20 minutes is about all they can manage. For now. What will it be like five years from now? Ten minutes? How much understanding can one get in ten minutes?
The reality is that some issues and topics are complex, and need more than 20 minutes or 400 words. How much understanding can we get with such brief attention? I even find myself falling to this attention deficit thing. I'm reading Kevin Vanhoozer's Is There a Meaning in This Text, and it is a complex read. I find myself being able to spend only about 40 minutes at a time before feeling like my mind is wandering. When I was a student in my first year of university, I could read for hours.
The inner rebel in me wants to shout and complain about this, and say, "Stop!" "Wait" and "Hold on!" Surely we can work to stave off this kind of thing? I'd like to think so, but I am probably either too idealistic, or more likely, utterly deluded.
I think I am going to try to increase my attention span by setting the time on my phone and reading until it goes off. I'll increase the time by five minutes at regular intervals and see how it goes. Nothing like performing experiments on oneself.