The right to be read
A few days ago I came across a google+ discussion started by a quite famous German PR guy where he asked what people think when somebody tells them that they didn’t read their post, article, statement or paper and, when asked about it, simply reply with tl;dr (to long; didn’t read).
When talking about that with my students and friends we came up with a quite simple but also interesting conclusion. Actually it’s quite obvious but nevertheless worth thinking about it. Having a HUGE amount of source fighting for user attention one simply has to earn the right to be read.
Hearing this seems a little hurtful and, even though you’re a big number within your social circles or even a coryphaeus within your field of interest. Nevertheless, thanks to twitter,f facebook, googleplus, wordpress or even tumblr (and all a-likes) everybody can publish his thoughts and put them out there. Since you’re quite likely good in what you do and convinced (maybe only the latter one) that is has to be read others might outsmart you on the publishing front. So if you are on twitter, google or somewhere else looking for a source regarding a certain topic you are not the only coming up. So earn your right to be read.
You might even think about calling this attitude ‘arrogant’. No? Well I did think about it to be honest. When I first heard ‘we can’t read everything, we have to choose what to read’ I almost delivered a ‘you have no idea what we all read back then and don’t be that lazy you are only playing games anyway…’ – luckily I was able to hold myself back, think about it for a short period of time and had to say this statement is right, in some way.
The right to be read
Now, when you’ve finished re-organizing your ego, let’s think about what makes something worth reading. Is it great content? Well, sure. Even though this is more what makes your publication worth spreading. Nevertheless, of course, having great content is always important. Content is king. Never forget that. But still we need to introduce the common people to the king. Once they come across your majesty and realize your greatness they will surely never ever walk away from you (unless the new harry potter is more interesting or farmville has some special offers in stock).
What’s the most valuable thing we have nowadays? Well, alright, trick question. Love, happiness, wife, children….sure. That’s all incredibly important. However I don’t want to go on this level since everybody has different priorities in this case. Let’s talk about ‘goods’ though. What is the single ‘good’ that, once we gave it away, won’t come back? Almost everything can be renewed except our TIME. Once it’s gone, it’s gone for good. So it makes complete sense to thoroughly check and think twice about what we spend our time with.
Since I think you are quite familiar with techniques on how to write a decent publication (headline, paragraphs, layout, etc.) let’s try to focus on what makes people ‘click’ and read your things. Since I luckily quit my marketing job some time ago I won’t give you tips like ‘write catchy tweets or headlines’ or stuff like that. I suppose that’s what you can figure out alone. What’s important here however really is to be aware of the fact for whom you are writing. Do you write just to sound smart and to impress your co-workers or bosses? Or do you write to reach students or teenagers? Does your target audience wants to read a well versed and descriptive yet long headline or a short, witty or funny caption? All things that you have to consider.
And overall: Interact! Don’t ignore upcoming questions, feedback and other responses. That’s what makes you different and ‘worth reading & caring’.
Prioritization != arrogance
Now that we have the ‘I have to earn the right to be read’ off the table’ there is the other side of the coin that also has to be considered. Sure it is important to evaluate how to spend time but it is still also important to maintain good behavior and a certain amount of common sense and understatement.
I don’t think that nowadays there are more ignorant or, let’s say it, stupid people out there than in other times. However it is easier for everybody to make themselves heard and publish their thoughts in an instant. For example a lot of people who ignore scientific publications or well researched papers / news still come up with opinions on topics they obviously never spent enough time to understand. That simply is annoying, impolite and offensive in regards to the people who spent a lot of time doing exactly that.
Furthermore telling someone ‘tl;dr’ is a sign of ignorance and a quite impolite gesture. At least everybody should maintain manners and understand that sometimes it is better not to say everything that pops up in ones head out loud (e.g. in social media). In short: Don’t be an ignorant ass. Be friendly and keep your mouth shut if you don’t know what’s going on.
It all comes down to something quite simple that however seems to be forgotten quite often. Nobody is perfect and everybody spends some of his most valuable good, time, in this matter. Whether it is writing and publishing an article or reading, thinking about and sharing it. Therefore it would only be logical (regards to Sheldon Cooper, PhD and Mr. Spock) to act in a civilized way and avoid smart assness on the one and cockiness and ignorance on the other side.
And that’s the bottom line.
This post was written by
sascha – who has written 44 posts on nomadteacher.org.
Sascha switched from an online marketing agency life in Europe to a teaching and education life and has no regrets at all! He also writes about Work & Life in Thailand.