Every day your inbox is pummeled by content you forgot you signed up for (or probably didn’t). You are on Flipboard, Twitter, LinkedIn and a bunch of other time sucking “tools” you vow not to check but you do. It doesn’t help that you are “pinged” every minute like Pavlov’s dog. Texts and Facebook Messenger fight for your attention. Friends send you stuff they think is interesting. Then there is traditional media struggling for your attention.
There is so much content. The world now has 1 billion websites. You can read 470 million blogs…I know this seems awfully low but most go dormant after a post or two because they offer zero value. Still, there are tens of millions of posts every day. Online magazines are ever growing. There are really no accurate counts. Suffice it to say there is overwhelming content. And way too much bad content.
The net and social media promised dialogue but it is a one-way loudspeaker. Everything screams at us with a false sense of urgency, importance and value. It is like everything stated should have an exclamation point. At the same time the content is horrendously dumbed down. It starts with attempts to hook us with titles like these:
The Numbered List: 7 Ways To Irritate Your Partner
How-To: Build Your Own Aircraft Carrier
Case Study: How We Grew Our Twitter Followers By Buying Them
Lessons Learned: Top Lessons From Breaking Bad
Reasons Why: Why Birkenstocks Work at Work
Provocative Questions: Did You Live In The Moment Yesterday?
News Headline: Greek Yoghurt Is Most Popular Country Yoghurt
Command: Read This And You Will Lose 5 Pounds
You click on this crap and find out that it is misleading, misinformed, or mal thought out. So much of what I unfortunately read is analogous to a circus sideshow. You are promised a “6 Foot Man Eating Chicken”. So you pay the five bucks. Then when you walk behind the curtain there is a tall man on a stool eating KFC.
An incredible amount of the content is common sense. Is society so challenged that we need the fundamentals refreshed every day? This does not credit readers with any bit of intelligence. It is shocking the extent of pedantic and pandering writing that exists.
Related to this but definitely in a league of its own is the poor quality of writing. That may sound elitist. I consider myself a “good” writer but am always struggling to be better but so much out there is just plain bad. From premise to grammar to spelling to punctuation. Even when we have automatic tools to help us we falter and fail.
This happens because most writing does not stem from an original thought, an amazing catalyst or an insight that incites. Writing exists for many reasons. To share an experience, prove a point-of-view, and change minds and behavior. That requires having passion for what you say and share. Most of the content today is content for content sake. That is why it fails to resonate.
The democratization of content is beautiful in theory but mighty dangerous in application. Authenticity and credibility are critical. In the next decade there will be an increasing focus on the quality of content and the credibility of its source. New technologies have given voice to many but this does not mean there is value or truth in everything being said and who it is being said by.
The result is we will train ourselves to screen, edit, and dismiss information as never before. So much so, that the most important metric in the coming years will be how many things we choose not to engage with on a daily basis. That will get us closer to the right amount of content. We will never get it absolutely right but we will get closer to the content worth reading.