… or why I detest reading most professional blogs these days, and decry the death of embellishment.
The drive for zealous search engine optimization often contradicts the quest for literary style. Of course, one might argue that there are certain subfields of writing where added flourish is abhorred. For example, technical writing, scientific writing and software documentation are stripped of most fanfare. Authors of such material are invited to focus on the bone-dry facts. They are encouraged to avoid use of colorful descriptions and superfluous words that might detract from the content; or worse, lend a tinge of subjectivity to the text. Blog posts are rated on usefulness and ubiquity. Vapid musings are encouraged as long as they serve as social network fodder for the blogging celebrity.
Quick and Painless Happy Meals
To today’s TL:DR generation, where novels are served in digestible 140-character tweets, the focus is on understanding content in a gestalt.
Common wisdom expects older people to sit still for longer periods of time, but in this constant barrage of stimuli most people vainly try to switch from one time-slice to another in a split-second. :beep: :beep: Answer text message, read a friend’s IM, browse the news feed, reply to a tweet, compose a brief email. The times decree that multitasking is a virtue, even when doomsday experts start bleating its perils; mainly that you will rarely get anything fucking done anymore once you reach a task threshold.
Trained as an educational content designer, I do appreciate the effort of creating content structure to accommodate limited human attention-spans. These are useful, effective techniques in imparting knowledge. Our chimp brains absorb information easier in bite-size portions spoon-fed repetitively to our gaping mouths. This is why preschoolers have shorter class hours than high school kids: no matter how garish your hand puppets and sing-song your narration might be, they will start flinging spitballs after a time.
Microsoft PowerPoint is the New Offline Blogging Tool
Business executives too suffer from this short attention-span malady despite their maturity. As mice on the corporate treadmill, we are trained to make succinct presentations with high-impact visual aids dominated by brief blurbs lest our capitalist masters waste their valuable time on details. Articles written by blog marketing mafiosi are no different, in that they emphasize that bloggers should construct posts that can be skimmed quickly. Content must be shoehorned into sections, which are composed of a few paragraphs with short sentences comprised of simple words.
I AM A SECTION HEAR ME ROAR
- Numbered top-n lists take the place of the self-serving 500-word blog manifesto.
- Main points are set apart with prodigious bullets.
Text is a puny percentage of the entire article compared to images and videos. The reader’s vocabulary level is assumed to be at the default level of passable. The obvious is depressingly stated. The literary blog is now superseded by the online equivalent of a PowerPoint file, cheesy transitions and all. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am, that’s sales for the month, they’re UP UP UP!
Look! My adherence to these ideas are illustrated by my concession to section headings and breaks in this very blog entry. I even used bold type and italics for emphasis. I will even throw in a gratuitous pic to break the monotony.
Monkey See, Monkey Do
Excessive simplification is often a hair’s breadth away from extreme dumbing-down. Pretty soon all these “Top Ten Ways to Monetize Your Blog” entries at the top of the Google search heap read virtually the same. In some cases, they are the same: regurgitated, linked, repurposed content with original author attribution so murky every blog post should be an urban legend. If making it in today’s commercialized, get-famous-and-rich-quick world means unique branding, following the SEO maven’s advice of pandering to the lowest common denominator might not be such a good thing.
In these times of information satiation, when pr0n of pedobears are a rule 34 away, readers tire of the same shtick easily. You can only stare at so many titties before they start to meld into a blurry kaleidoscope of bouncy stiff silicone spheres. The dark side of crush videos soon begin to beckon your blackened, deadened, bored cyber soul. After so much of the same thing, Internet ennui sets in, that traitorous soul-sucking chupacabra. This is why when I research on a topic or read a post, I place high value on an intelligent, unique perspective that will cause me to mold voodoo dolls in the author’s likeness out of helpless writing envy. I want to save my soul.
Obtuse and Obscure is Tres Cool
We all want to escape the cookie-cutter, but the ranking algorithm is soulless: what it spurts out when you click on search will always be the most efficient results based on data. Sets of related data; prevalence and frequency of relevant data. I traffic in this electronic wizardry during a 40-hour work week; we are trained to see as the electronic brain sees. Computers are blindingly-fast, accurate floating-point silicon behemoths that have the subtlety of a sledgehammer. And until our future machine overlords step up their game, qualitative interpretation of text will always be out of their functional domains. I don’t see them discoursing on the absurd genius of lolcats anytime soon.
There must be one smart-ass commenter out there (how ambitious of me to even dream of blog visits) who will burn this wicked post at the SEO stake for complexity, long-windedness, and self-absorption. But gawd, self-promotion aside, I’d say I inched several finger widths above other bland posts out there. Those posts who claim to tell you of “7 Surefire Tips that Will Make You Rich Online” and sound like they were written by bonobos who recently attended ESL classes… No, consider me corrected. I’d wager that these keenly-intelligent primates would have greater flair than their human counterparts.
To conclude, I will presume to dispense advice and implore you, in bullets:
- Write weird.
- Write poetic.
- Write melodious.
- Write complex.
- Write convoluted.
- Write sesquipedalian (that’s long, you bitches; I looked it up).
- Write verbose.
- Write … with ellipses and fragments, run-ons, phrases, violations used with judicious selection.
- Write as if e.e. cummings infused you with his
for structure and gram
Sarcasm might never translate to an increase in bot visits but it will resonate with people who value humor. Adverbs and adjectives will be discarded as SEO fluff but they will be the jalapeño to your meaty beefy saucy blog post. Hard-to-read may never earn you money but it will earn you grudging respect, even if much of it will be pretentious. Keep your AP Stylebook in close proximity, but your Lovecraft on your bedside.
Take the profane humanity of blogging back!