I ran into a comment on a long response I had written on a particularly hip site dedicated to essays about culture. The comment was, “TL;DR.”
The first time I saw that jumble of capitol letters I thought maybe it was from a spambot and simply ignored it. After seeing it again, though, I was curious. Just what the hell does TL;DR mean, anyway?
The Urban Dictionary definition for TL;DR is, “Literally, ‘Too long; didn’t read,’ said whenever a nerd makes a post that is too long to bother reading.”
If it’s nerdy to write at length, then hell, I’m as nerdy as they come. I might as well get some coke-bottle glasses and a bow tie and sit in the corner with a calligraphy pen and a loose leaf leather-bound notebook mumbling to myself about the fall of urban civilization as we know it. Right?
Which makes me wonder, do people even like to read anymore? Or has our modern culture fallen into a twitter-length-is-best philosophy?
Now that we all have access to the meaning of words, to books and pens, we don’t seem to want much to do with them.
And does the fact that a post is so long you didn’t read it mean that the post itself is the crime? Or is a lack of attention span keeping the larger population from considering something outside their comfort zones: Something that is too long might spur them to action or take them down memory lane, inspire them to write, even.
We live in a time where flash fiction and haiku poems are the aspiration (that’s not to say either of these are bad in and of themselves), where people fit a limited number words into a facebook or twitter feed and absolutely must pack a punch within that limited box of space or else…
Or else what?
People won’t like it? They’ll call you a nerd?
Probably, in these overstimulated days, things are better assimilated if they’re broken down into bite-size pieces, so that we can have our mini cupcakes and eat them too.
It soothes the corporations and the cool kids more if we keep our words confined to just a couple, so that they can have their news reel in the three seconds it takes to tie their shoes in the morning before putting on a tie and heading out the door to sit in think tanks and brainstorm about the most creative way to get the current generation to buy the next iconic plastic object or technology.
It hurts when we try to tell them too much in too long of a space. And yes, they will call us on it. They will troll the web looking for those who write things that are TOO WORDY and they will tell them–in a cute little abbreviated way that doesn’t take much space at all–I didn’t read what you wrote because it was too long. Thus, you are a dork.
Oh wait, sorry, according to wiki, dork is:
- A penis; A quirky, silly and/or stupid, socially inept person, or one who is out of touch with contemporary trends. Often confused with nerd and geek, but does not imply the same intelligence level.
It appears that dork and nerd are not mutually exclusive in the context of judgement on wordy writing that isn’t mainstream, isn’t cool.
Along the dork line, it seems that short-and-to-the-point advertising and buzzwords have affected our generation as a whole. God forbid we read a long windy reply or devour a freaking novel. We need the words to be one sentence. We need them to hit the readers RIGHT AWAY. We need the words to provoke purchase, coolness or immediately make you part of the hippest group of forward-moving people if you so much as retweet them. Good god, we’ve created a monster.
What? Oh, sorry, TL;DR.