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(Disclaimer: The opin­ions expressed in this arti­cle are the author’s own and do not nec­es­sar­i­ly rep­re­sent those of the SuperNerdLand.com staff and/or any con­trib­u­tors to this site.)

It takes a spe­cial kind of writer to be able to actu­al­ly reach out and touch the audi­ence. It’s far too easy the­se days to be clin­i­cal, detached, uncar­ing and unfeel­ing. When it comes to writ­ing, those writ­ers actu­al­ly tend to be best at cov­er­ing news. Keeping as objec­tive as pos­si­ble is nec­es­sary there. It can be soul­less work, writ­ing facts that are going to just be read, dead­pan, by an audi­ence. One doesn’t even have to wor­ry about influ­enc­ing audi­ence thought with most cov­er­age; that is not what a good news writer should be doing. This is the one type of writ­ing where you want to keep your own soul out of it as much as pos­si­ble.

Sadly, this is also the one type of writ­ing that gets abused the most; filled with peo­ple who can’t help but inject their own lean­ings. This is why we have such a biased media. Writers and edi­to­ri­al staff can nev­er seem to remem­ber their place, and chose to line their wal­lets with click­bait and vit­ri­ol instead of advo­cat­ing for the objec­tive truth of an event.

Conversely, you have things like opin­ion and edi­to­ri­al, as well as essays, poet­ry, and longer-form writ­ing. These are the mate­ri­als that are meant to touch the soul of the audi­ence. Those writ­ers are meant to inspire thought and emo­tion; to touch the audi­ence in the most fun­da­men­tal ways. A good writer can make you laugh, cry, fear, and hope. A real­ly good writer can make you do all those at once. This is their job, at the end of the day.

Just as we have too many news writ­ers inject­ing their view­points, we have too many medioc­re writ­ers inca­pable of find­ing the right vein to hit. I suf­fer from that, myself. I’m hor­ri­ble at touch­ing the emo­tions of the audi­ence, but I do try. We wind up with too much schlock being print­ed, though it’s not a recent trend that leaves the ratio of hack to skilled writ­ers where it lies.

For every writer that inspires, we have a dozen pump­ing out the next 50 Shades. That’s the nature of writ­ing, and a long run­ning his­tor­i­cal trend.

It’s just that mind-numbing con­tent has become the biggest com­mod­i­ty in this dig­i­tal age of pub­lish­ing we find our­selves in. Real thought doesn’t seem to be prof­itable, and is actu­al­ly detri­men­tal to the busi­ness prac­tices of those out­lets that cater to emo­tions. They exploit psy­chol­o­gy as well as any skin­ner box sim­u­la­tion of a game does, and get you com­ing back like it’s some bag of MSG laden corn chips.

Not that I’m putting the prob­lem pure­ly on the writer; the audi­ence does have their own role to play. The audi­ence has to give a damn, going in. The audi­ence can­not be pla­cat­ed cat­tle, fed a strict diet of cat pic­tures and click­bait and told what to read by the lat­est design­er hash­tag. It can be hard to break into a new diet when con­sum­ing media — espe­cial­ly after years on it, but the Buzzfeeds and Gawkers of the world will con­tin­ue to give peo­ple crap when peo­ple keep com­ing for it.

There are hun­dreds of fan­tas­tic pieces of writ­ing pub­lished online every week, but it mat­ters not when the audi­ence en masse seems to grav­i­tate towards the lit­er­ary equiv­a­lent of processed dog food. [Editor’s note: Alexander Macris of The Escapist Magazine got into a bit of this in his inter­view with us and his TEDx talk.]

The audi­ence has to be will­ing to take a risk on the skills of the writer; to be will­ing to let the words in — and pos­si­bly touch a very scary part of them­selves. The audi­ence should also think on work­ing hard­er to act as feed­back. To tell a writer what they do well, what they need to fix, and cor­rect them should they err. This is a sym­bi­otic rela­tion­ship we have here.

Sadly, the inter­net at large tends to be lax in this. A major­i­ty of peo­ple are far more like­ly to read click­bait and insipid images that turn cul­ture into sound­bites. Everything is so much eas­ier to stom­ach when it’s sil­ly pic­tures, top ten lists, and com­pi­la­tions of sound­bites. It becomes a sort of hug box, where you only reach out to get your pre-existing notions val­i­dat­ed nar­ra­tive dri­ven news, or absorb infor­ma­tion that is use­less, non-challenging, and allows you to escape harsh­er real­i­ties. Hell, you’ve even got social media engi­neered to deliv­er the quick­est dose of cat pic­tures, cul­tur­al sound­bites, and click­bait right to your face. The mir­a­cle of the hash­tag dic­tates what you want to read, and even what reac­tion you should have to it.

There’s no intel­li­gence, no ques­tion­ing of val­ues, no impe­tus to form a new opin­ion.

It’s not to say that that amuse­ment, enter­tain­ment, and dis­trac­tion don’t have their place. It’s just becom­ing the norm, as even for­mal­ly well respect­ed out­lets fall to the prey of chas­ing ad rev­enue down a drain­pipe.

The prob­lem is nei­ther on the writer nor the audi­ence entire­ly. Both shoul­der the bur­den, because this memet­ic sound­bite cul­ture we have is eas­ier than actu­al­ly cre­at­ing cul­ture of our own. It’s eas­ier to make and curate pic­tures of ani­mals, Hitler, or John Cena than it is to ques­tion why we need so many of the­se damned things in the first place.

The writer can be lazy, only cre­at­ing for a buck, and not for the beau­ty of touch­ing the audi­ence.  The audi­ence can be lazy as well, con­sum­ing like Pacman, but nev­er once tak­ing the time to ques­tion why or tak­ing a risk to absorb a dis­sent­ing opin­ion. When your cul­ture is a non-stop rep­e­ti­tion of thought boiled down to sin­gle images, and your entire iden­ti­ty is awash in sound­bites, what con­cept of the life around you do you real­ly have?

So writ­ers, write some­thing. Touch someone’s soul. Feel the pow­er you have in your mind and heart, instead of the pow­er of the wal­let. Create because it’s what you do best, because you have that burn­ing pas­sion. Not because it’s an easy buck. Audience, step out­side your com­fort zones. Read some­thing no one told you to now and then, some­thing that runs again­st your own view­point, some­thing that makes you ques­tion what you believe. There’s no rea­son we should be stuck in a rut, lined by pic­tures of cats and the lat­est two min­utes hate.

A writer that can­not make an audi­ence read is use­less. An audi­ence unwill­ing to read is nigh use­less as well. It is the writer’s job to con­nect with the soul of the audi­ence, to find some­thing to make them react; we have to make that con­nec­tion, be it with joy, sad­ness, anger, or fear.  The crux is that in order for this to func­tion, two things are need­ed: 1) The writer has to be able to touch the audi­ence and 2) the audi­ence has to want to be reached.

https://supernerdland.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/writers-header.jpghttps://supernerdland.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/writers-header-150x150.jpgJason GoldenOpinionAudience,Opinion,Readers,Writers(Disclaimer: The opin­ions expressed in this arti­cle are the author’s own and do not nec­es­sar­i­ly rep­re­sent those of the SuperNerdLand.com staff and/or any con­trib­u­tors to this site.) It takes a spe­cial kind of writer to be able to actu­al­ly reach out and touch the audi­ence. It’s far too easy the­se…
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Jason Golden
I’m that crazy guy that writes things and hosts Back Issues.
Jason Golden

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