Not dead yet


I know what you’re saying.  “So, is this site dead or what?”

I understand and apologize.  I am suffering from a monumental case of writer’s block that has now lasted for over a year. And that’s after I went dark for the previous year fretting over the technical details of migrating the site to WordPress.

It’s not that I’m lacking for ideas.  It’s just that my ideas aren’t lending themselves to column-length expansion.

Facebook may be mostly to blame.  It’s been my primary creative outlet for the past couple of years (sad, I know), and I think it’s causing me to develop bad writing habits.  Facebook is all about writing short, to-the-point pithy remarks.  It’s not as restrictive as Twitter’s 140-character limitation, but when you’re reading through your Facebook news feed, any post longer than a few sentences is not displayed in its entirety unless you click on a “See more” or “Continue reading” link.

You may find this hard to believe if you are not a Facebook user, but those continuation links present a dilemma.  There’s no guarantee that the people who follow you are going to go to the (albeit minor) effort of expanding your longer posts.  I don’t even do it myself unless the poster has really grabbed me with the first few lines.

This is what the Internet is doing to us.  We are all sinking to the intellectual level of 5-year-olds, with similarly short attention spans and a constant need for instantaneous gratification.  It’s just about killed newspapers (USA Today is surviving because they anticipated and adapted to this trend sooner than anyone else).  And I fear that all long-form writing is in danger of becoming a lost art.

Yesterday was the ninth anniversary of Mike’s Circular File – I fired the site up on October 26, 2003.  But it’s hardly a cause for celebration with only three posts in the past 32 months.

So I’m dropping in today to promise you that I’m not giving up.  I just need to adjust my mental focus.  One of the things that always gets my creative juices flowing is reading fiction, and I have fallen away from that, with my pleasure reading consisting mostly of technology articles and Consumer Reports.  Well, I’m addressing that situation forthwith.  Going to get my beloved Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy novels out of storage (great for stimulating imagination and creative word usage), and today I went to Half Price Books and bought a copy of Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, which I’ve never read.  I’m hoping to get back to form very soon.

Wish me luck.


Not dead yet — 2 Comments

  1. Mike – this was the complaint with video games- so how come you have changed your opinion? It is not that I disagree with you – now – and I have complained about this as a teacher for quite a while. Students are totally focused on short term; and constant stimulation – this generation is seeing the death of the socratic method, and it is not just ollege freshman – friends who teach grad students are seeing the same problem.
    I would say that it is not that we have these things that is bad it is that everything is oriented along these lines – like your comment space here.

  2. Hello Mike,

    I remember the Circular File from the StL News Paper so it has to be older than 9 years or are you trying to tell me you a doing a whole Benjamin Button thing here.

    All seriousness a side, you are so right, we are losing the art of real communication. We are being forced to condense our thoughts to such a basic level that it leaves very little room for actual discussion let alone debate.