Got My Attention …

Got My Attention …

My Attention

There’s no need to remind anyone how busy life is these days.

We all have to-do lists longer than our arms, places to be, people to see, or is that places to see and people to be? To each his own …

Everyone wants his or her mind chock full of useful information but no one wants to spend the time to get it. We rush through our required reading, turning a pleasant read into a scanning frenzy to find the good stuff and move on.

This propensity to take shortcuts has even crept into our writing. In fact, it’s now so prevalent most of us don’t even notice, including me.

Oh yeah, I’ve noticed our attention span is getting smaller (less than that of a goldfish, apparently).

And I’ve noticed words are being omitted from blog posts and articles.  The ‘I’ or ‘I’ve’ at the beginning of the sentence was the first to go. I went shopping last week … became Went shopping last week…

Then other words started to disappear. It doesn’t matter … became Doesn’t matter … and Do you understand? is now just Understand?

And on it goes …

I’m as guilty of this as the next person, and speech is even worse.

What I didn’t realise is it’s now become so normal you only notice it when you read something that doesn’t leave out words.

I don’t mean copy that’s full of superfluous words just tripping all over themselves and screaming for a good editor, or copy so clumsily-worded that it takes forever to get to the point or worse, doesn’t at all. If you’ve been reading online for any length of time you’ll know what I mean.

I was recently reading an article that included every word it should have. It didn’t make its point any clearer, good writing does that with or without every word, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and it took me a while to figure out why.

It was invigorating to read something with no words missing.

Even allowing for fast readers who skip the unnecessary words like and and the it just seemed nicer to read it. Perhaps it was the effort the writer had made by including every word, which made him/her stand out from the crowd – to me anyway. Perhaps it was because this is how good writing used to be.

Or maybe it was easier on my brain because the meaning was clear.

I don’t know. But I do know I appreciated reading it just a smidge more than I would had it omitted the usual words at the beginning of sentences.

Of course there are no missing words in formal documents like legal or business papers, and college theses, as well as magazine and newspaper articles, but I’m referring to the everyday online reading most of us do.

My point is not that we’re all dispensing with strict rules of writing structure (some of them should have been dispensed with before they were allowed to ruin our English classes).

After all, many other languages leave the pronouns out and the meaning is inferred from the context.

I’m all for making life easier and saving time, but sometimes it’s just nice to read something written with care and consideration for the English language. In this hurly-burly existence we’ve created for ourselves, reading a well-crafted piece of writing (that uses all the words it needs to convey meaning and not one word more) is akin to an unexpected shoulder massage or finding a $50 note on the street, and that certainly grabs attention.

Something to think about …




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *