Thoughts on branding, design, writing and life by Kevin Potts. Established 2003.

Boring Content is Boring Because Boring is the New Normal

The obsession over shortening content for the sake of making it “not boring” is just the latest trend in killing otherwise great content.

Over the past ten years, the myth that the only good content is short content because long content is boring content has infested the online world like an aggressive foot fungus.

Words like “snackable” appear in creative briefs. Claims of ever-declining time on page are cited. Arbitrary collapsing of content is the new normal in mobile UI. Long-form is waved away in favor of Hemingway quotes over kittens pictures because LIKE! SHARE! TWEET!

Bizarrely, the amount of content keeps growing. Some of it’s good! But most is not. Rampant vapid clickbaiting and the ever-depreciating value of pixel-based display advertising has created an arms race of shit-for-clicks. Page views are the only currency and the inflation is unstoppable.

The combination of the social firehose, mephitic patterns of “content creation”, and illiterate proclamations from people who’ve never written a single interesting thing in their life culminate in statements like “this is boring; no one reads anymore so shorten it”.

Shortening bad content is CPR for a corpse.

The problem is really the myth of “nobody reads” and its corruption of otherwise healthy, robust ideas. Content that needs space to breathe is compressed into tweetable bites, snackable vids, nuggets of click-napping. Narratives are bullet points. Stories are listicles. Art direction is iStock. It’s honestly difficult to tell if something was created by a human or a robot.

All for a desperate scramble to make it “not boring” or “boost engagement”.

Fuck that.

Long content is not boring. You know what kind of content is boring? Boring content from boring people is boring. The only content that needs to be short is content that is short.

Perhaps if we collectively agree that “snackable” is a false idol, that social media is one channel and not a universal speed limit, that the churn of shit to support dwindling ad models is a dead end, that engagement comes from content worth engaging with … perhaps our dysfunctional, pejorative view of content can heal.

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