Is Simplicity the Answer?
Today I downloaded an audio book that was recommended to me by a friend and I was a little confused by its style. The book is basically about how to find your calling and create the life that you want, and while the authors were listing all their achievements and years of teaching in prestigious colleges I just couldn't stop thinking how simple and basic their language seemed to appear. The book literally started with examples of people's life situations that reminded me my classes when I was learning English in fifth grade: "This is Jane. Jane goes to school. Jane thinks she likes her major, but then she realizes it's not her true calling. What should Jane do?" Of course, I am exaggerating a bit, but it just really amazed me that people with years of experience in teaching and higher education degrees would write in such a dry and basic style.
Earlier this week I also decided to explore YouTube from a more analytical point and kind of get familiar with trends, understand its fast-changing algorithms and get familiar with popular content. To my surprise, once again, I have concluded that the simpler the video, the more hits it might get. Of course, YouTube is a ginormous platform with audiences of all sizes, and it seems only the laziest person would be unable to find something that suits their likes, but a random video of a girl talking about 10 things girls hate in a relationship gets millions more views than any informative well-put together videos. Nobody wants to watch, say, Mark Zuckerberg's commencement speech at Harvard when you can see someone put 100 layers of colorful nail polish or crush things with a hydraulic press. There is so much other weird and dumb stuff on YouTube that gets millions and millions of views, but I really don't even want to go there, because that just upsets me. I am always down for a good cat video, though.
I do understand where this comes from. People like simplicity. Our brains constantly process so much information, that we don't want to over load them with even more crap. The professors writing the book know their audience - millenials, who are either still in our fresh out of college. The same goes for Youtube and social media in general - the less of an intellectual burden it is, the better. Media is for entertainment purposes, that's why after a long day a person would rather choose a show that is easy and doesn't require your brain working too hard. Our attention span is so little, that we don't want to soak up information in big chunks. We need short and simple sentences, we need basic, attention grabbing videos with cheesy humor (if that), because that's how we operate these days. We type acronyms and shorten the words to save on time (are we really that lazy, that instead of "thanks" we absolutely have to write "thnx"? What are you saving those bits of a second for? What is the rush exactly?)
Please don't think that I am just grumpy, damn-those-kids-and-back-in-my-days kind of a girl, quite the opposite. I like observing how fast things change and exploring the social trends, but this whole week I just couldn't stop thinking about where is that line of simplicity that we shouldn't cross? Is there a point where we won't need to challenge our brains anymore? And, most of all, what direction are we moving in and would those who did not adapt to the new rules get wiped out by evolution? As a person who enjoys writing lengthy posts (if you haven't noticed) I do feel somewhat threatened. So if you made it all the way to the end, I have hope that not everything is quite lost. And maybe, just maybe, one day a NASA video about how the Universe works will collect far more views than a vlog about smashing an Iphone with an axe.