Culture has been getting faster and shallower for hundreds of years, says Seth Godin, and encourages us to have meaningful conversations with a smaller number of people and to create thoughtful content instead of trying to get that shallow, meaningless “wow” from thousands – or from millions.
I agree – I think anyone would agree – that meaningful, long-term conversations and relationships are more important and have a higher value – to the individual and to the culture – than quick, drive-by, “wow”-type interactions, but as a blogger I have to say that the temptation is huge.
After all, if you’re not Seth Godin – if you’re a non-celebrity person who produces high quality content for a small group of fans, at some point it becomes frustrating. If you can’t get lots of people to read your words, what value do they have? If I write something shallow and meaningless such as this, and it goes viral on Stumbleupon and gets 100,000 page views in one day, and then I write something deep and meaningful and it gets 1,000 page views, which piece is more important? Which made a bigger difference?
And then there’s the question of money of course – people need to make a living and most would love to make a nice living – so if the deep, thoughtful piece does not make me money but the shallow crap does – it becomes a tough choice.
This blog is an interesting experiment, becuase it is my space so I get to do whatever I want here. I sometimes go with shallow crap, sometimes with deep thoughts and sometimes with something in between. While I sometimes look at the shallow posts that I produce and tell myself “I can’t believe you just wrote this,” I can also tell you that when I write something deeper and it does not go viral on social media and relatively few people read it, I feel disappointed.
When you’re a new blogger, one of the first pieces of advice you hear is that people on the Internet don’t read – they scan – and that you should write short posts with lots of bullets, numbers and lists. They tell you to highlight the important lines and to add a pretty picture. The assumption is that long = tedious and that no one these days has the time, the attention span or the number of live brain cells required to read and process long articles, however thought-provoking or culture-changing they may be.
So if you’ve read all these words, and you are still with me (unlikely since this post is turning out to be almost 500 words long, is not bulleted or numbered and does not discuss a celebrity), I would love to hear your thoughts:
If you produce or market content, are you going for the wow factor, or do you insist on being authentic, even if it means your audience will always be small? And if you’re a reader, do you find yourself gravitating towards titles such as “Kim Kardashian Tweets Bikini Pics” while ignoring deeper titles that lack the wow factor?
Loved this comment: “If the wow stuff can get people to come, some of them might be also into the deeper stuff you write. Some of the people that only read shallow stuff might have a moment of weakness and accidentally start looking at the deeper posts and be converted into philosophers, so you never know. South Park has lots of fart jokes but there are also sharp social commentaries in many episodes. The wow might bring the crowd and attention, but maybe it will make some of them think. Then maybe, the shallow stuff has value that way.” Kelvin Kao, Puppet Kaos.