The Evil Imp

In Search of the Thoughtful Voice

As a form of communication text messaging has its uses, not very many for sure but it definitely has some practical purpose. Here in TheLab™ we’re struggling to think of one but there has to be one, right?

In many ways text messages have become a metaphor for large parts of the internet. Keep it short, keep it simple, keep it unintelligible otherwise nobody will pay any attention. The world is moving fast, everybody is busy, nobody has the time. It’s just we’re not sure what it is everybody is so busy with that they don’t have any time to pay attention.

From video sites, to blogs and social networking to the pervasive scourge that is Twitter the message is becoming ever more truncated and, in a lot of cases, ever more pointless. Content, the actual thing that makes the internet worthwhile, is being compromised for the sake of brevity.

The medium doesn’t appear to matter. Video, sound, writing, if it’s too long then we’re not interested. Or so we are told by the experts. Kids/young people come in for a particularly hard time because, apparently, they all have the attention span of napkins and they all get their kicks watching frogs explode on YouTube.

Yes, there are a lot of kids like that, but what about the ones who aren’t?

Internet gurus are constantly telling us about the “conversation” that is taking place on the world wide web. The power of the internet is interactivity, a million voices converging to discuss any given topic, a million voices just dying to give their opinion.

The problem is that there is no conversation. Plenty of voices for sure but very little in the way of an actual back and forth, an exchange of ideas or meaningful debate.

We recall a story on the political website Huffington Post some time ago that generated more than 12,000 comments. The owners of that site would call it a triumph for the public’s voice, anybody with a brain would see it as 12,000 bits of writing that nobody will ever read. Imagine standing in a very large room with 5,000 people all talking to themselves and you have some idea of the “conversation” that’s going on in commenting sections all over the internet.

What we, here in TheLab™, would propose is the dance sector, and a lot of other sectors, give voice to the dozens, if not hundreds, of thoughtful, intelligent, articulate individuals that work in this sometimes wretched business. Be it through video, audio or good old fashioned writing let them speak.

Let’s hear what they have to say free of the fear of the failed group think of the comments section, feedback forms, ratings, thumbs up, thumbs down and meaningless view counters. Smart, attentive people will stay on for the ride. The permanently inattentive will jump ship and look elsewhere but you have to ask yourself, did you really want them in the first place?

If we move toward a more substantive message in all our communications, choosing substance over speed and volume, then surely we’re all going to be a lot better off and a lot less stressed out.