“We need to make books cool again. If you go home with somebody and they don’t have books, don’t fuck them.”
- John Waters
Namaste, citizens of the universe. I hope your respective auras and chakras are all bright and aligned and that wherever you are, the chi is flowing smoothly. Regular readers (Hi Dad!) might have noticed a distinct lack of Shredder in their lives last week, and right they would be, as it was my 25th birthday and I chose to spend it cartoonishly inebriated. As such, I was unable to produce or arrange words to any entertaining or coherent degree, and if you wanted to read half legible, shamefully broken English you’d all be on Twitter right now.
Glad to see you all survived without me, if only barely. This week I’ll be carving another inch into my ever-lengthening scar across the internet’s posterior with my take on what I perceive to be a ridiculous and prevalent trend among young people of all cliques and demographics. The good news, however, is that anyone who’s managed to read this far will be absolved of my relentless critical savagery. This is;
TL;DR and the death of the written word
The rise of the internet has changed the world in many important and impactful ways. For example, we are now able to communicate and exchange ideas with our peers worldwide, instantly and in real time. This has essentially erased distances and borders by bringing us all into direct proximity with one another, a transition that happened in just a few short years since computers became household devices. Thankfully, the results of this have been largely positive, having freed up information and opened forums for like-minded individuals around the planet who otherwise would likely have never found each other. Also, porn.
Conversely, an unfortunate side effect of this unprecedented influx of information is that our attention spans are now constantly overstimulated, being pulled in a thousand different directions by the endless streams of data at our disposal twenty four hours a day, and as such we have little patience for anything that doesn’t immediately shock, entertain, inform or impress us.
This has instilled in us a fervent urgency to constantly find something with which to occupy our dull, over stimulated senses. We now spend our lives in a perpetual rush for immediate satisfaction, endlessly seeking out the newest, loudest, most overwhelming things available because we’ve been conditioned to expect instant gratification, and as a result our patience has dissolved to nearly non-existent levels.
Because of this, mainstream internet entertainment platforms mostly deal in quotes, gifs, and single image memes. In rare cases, a paragraph or two will work their way into the fold edgewise, but for the most part the shorter and more succinct something is, the more likely it is to be successful.
There’s a certain irony inherent in that mentality, namely the ridiculous notion that now that we have everything at our fingertips, we’re suddenly too busy to properly experience any of it. Whereas a few decades ago, when our scope of sources for knowledge were significantly more limited, we would take all the time necessary to soak up as much of it as possible, but now that it’s all available all the time it’s become a race to glean as much superficial understanding of it all as quickly as possible.
If you were around in the early nineties you may remember when A.D.D became a thing that every ineffectual soccer mom was screaming about, unless you were pumped so full of Ritalin that you don’t even remember your own name, in which case, you are now Robocop T Wanghammer, MD. As I was saying Robocop, oh pardon me, Dr. Wanghammer, back when attention deficit disorder became a thing, everybody was freaking out about how their kids couldn’t focus enough to do well in school or not set things on fire when left to their own devices.
Let’s just ignore the obvious stupidity of wondering why little Billy can’t get excited about his poorly staffed, under-funded, fundamentally flawed education system, and also the knee jerk reaction of throwing fistfuls of pills at anyone who couldn’t recite the multiplication tables on command in favour of recognizing this moment in history as the beginning of an era I like the refer to as “The Age Of Meh”.
Hot on the heels of the eighties, where cocaine made everyone super interested in everything, nineties kids struggled to adhere to the constraints of societal expectations. Grades began to drop, attitudes grew wildly out of control, and flannel was re-appropriated from the uniform of the proud lumberjack to the banner of listless apathy. Parents and Oprah were quick to put the name of the most readily available disorder on it, but at the core of the matter, kids were just bored.
Coincidentally, this was around the time a little thing called the internet was taking its first awkward fledgling steps into being. Even while it was still in its infancy, the concept of a universal network that could be used to see boobs blew some minds very early on, and things we take for granted today like email probably left a few soiled undergarments in their wake when first introduced.
So to tidy that up, we had a generation of bored, directionless youth looking for anything new and entertaining, and a novel technology offering a new way to communicate with the world that boasted literally endless possibilities. Given those factors, it’s safe to say that the resulting internet boom was nothing more than a chemical reaction, an explosion, to be specific, and a damned remarkable one at that.
And that was that, young people took to the internet like the Japanese took to tentacle porn, and the result can be seen through the simple observation that over the course of three decades the world wide web has gone from a mysterious and complicated fringe concept to the lone titan of global industry, economics, media and discussion. Also, porn.
It was pretty great for everyone involved, really. Corporations were built, money was made, entire economies rose and collapsed on the heels of those bored hyperactive children finally finding their niche, and it truly was a gilded digital paradise of boundless opportunity and possibility.
The operative word being was. Here we are in 2013 and all but the most detached of luddites possess at least a passing knowledge of the internet. The bubble has burst, and the novelty has worn off. Life online is now as natural as genetically modified foods and fluoridated water, and aside from episodic reincarnations of the same ideas, there’s not really many new things happening in the digital world aside from the established giants of social networking, and of course, porn.
So where does that leave today’s youth? Born into an endless cloud of universal connectivity, too early to find disillusion in its offerings, and too late to make any fundamentally crucial contributions. Well the answer to that is simple; it leaves them at a dead end. Our rapid and unceasing path of progress has led us to a precipice upon which invention takes a back seat to innovation, which in time will inevitably be succeeded by complete and utter stagnation.
The internet gold rush has ended, effectively leaving the next generation perfectly equipped for a job they are totally fucking useless at. Which explains why kids today seem even lazier than we were, and why it’s so easy to become filled with blind, seething, albatross-choking rage when we see them failing at simple concepts like spelling, grammar, and knowing who fucking Paul McCartney is.
It is a hallmark of a person’s metamorphosis into bitter adulthood when they start making indignant observations about ‘Kids today’, espousing the virtues of their generations work ethic and how they grew up in better days, so perhaps the following statement will sound like it’s leaving the withered lips of a curmudgeonly old man as he curses your confounded skateboard for blocking up the gosh-darned sidewalks, but the point remains true that not only is the youth of today ignorant to the point of illiteracy, but also fucking proud of it.
Which brings me to the crux of my fevered diatribe, a nefarious and evil statement that perfectly encapsulates the pride taken by idiots in their fathomless stupidity within four letters;
For those who haven’t had the nard-stomping displeasure of encountering this vile acronym, it stands for Too long; Didn’t read, and it’s what people who think they’re cool say when they’re too lazy or stupid to read the entirety of something because anything beyond two sentences of bold white print causes their feeble minds to cease functioning until jostled back into base levels of operation by Nyan Cat and Scumbag Steve.
As a writer, I should hope it isn’t necessary for me to explain why this royally chaps my pretentiously long-winded ass, but it should really piss you off too, as a member of a race that ritualistically touts its intellectual superiority over all other forms of life. Think of how demeaning it is to every creature that can’t read, to so flippantly neglect the gift of advanced cognitive function and squander the privilege of our highly developed cranial goop on meaningless memes and righteous declarations of our apathy towards information.
TL;DR is the logo of the consciously idiotic, the avatar of callous separation from our inquisitive hunger to learn. It is the single worst blight to ravage academia since Nazi book burning, and I for one have had enough.
Incidentally, that just so happens to be the billionth time a person on the internet has compared someone to the Nazis to make a point. I’d like to thank my parents, god, the academy and of course, Nazis. I couldn’t have done it without you.
I’ve got a solution to this problem that I believe would assist every like-minded individual in raising awareness and hopefully eradicating it once and for all. The next time you see someone use this infernal slogan of the inept, copy and paste the following message beneath it in hopes of opening their eyes.
Below is my calculated and completely appropriate response:
You are not fucking cool. Not wanting to read something does not make you awesome or hip. Not having the attention span to chew through a paragraph of text makes you everything that is wrong with the world. You’re the reason we can’t have nice things and I wish you nothing but papercuts, ingrown hairs and sinus infections for all of eternity, you useless, lazy, immensely idiotic filthy fucking fucker of fucking swine. May your soul wander endlessly through the infinite abyss of stupidity that is your empty fucking skull. I hate you.
Chances are they’ll just fire another TL;DR your way, or perhaps its dim-witted, developmentally disabled cousin, “Cool Story Bro!” but you’ll be ready for that. In the event that they refute your logic with ignorance, which they will, I’ve taken the liberty of summarizing the sentiment;
Fuck. Your. Stupid. Face.
Now, you and I both know that this will have little to no effect in the long run, even if it does manage to change one mind, which it won’t. But it’s not the sources of the problem that we’re trying to save here, consider them lost already. The idea is to rally those that still care to the defense of literacy and education, so the real tally of how effective the tactic is will be how many likes it receives from those that continue to give a fuck.
They are the ones that we need to seek out and empower. It is the learned, fertile minds the likes of Neil Degrasse Tyson who would sooner fall on their sword than leave words unread. The last glorious bastion of intellect who still devour books voraciously and apply that knowledge to their daily lives. The readers that digest.
The time to reinvigorate our collective passion for learning is long overdue, as we are already deeply beneath the veil of trendy dumbass dipshits eviscerating our proud legacy of education, and faltering in our vain attempts to carry the flame. As willingness to learn degrades, so too will the quality of the information dissolve, and the more we tolerate a burgeoning mentality of Swag/Yolo, “Let’s be retarded LOL”among our young, the deeper we dig the grave of our progression as a species.
It may not seem like that big of a problem now, but bear in mind that before these vapid purveyors of slogan and slang sprang from our loins, we were considered the worst generation ever. Not only should it be alarming that we, the former targets of the crusade, are now in the position of defending intellectuality, but it should be downright terrifying to think that when we’re all dead, these half-baked fools will be running the world.
Thankfully, it’ll probably be smouldering rubble by then anyway, and realistically, of all our potential global demises, short attention spans are fairly low on the threat-o-meter. But it still pisses me off when people passively dismiss the written word while acting all cool and sexy about it. As both a writer and a reader, this creates ominous rumblings in the damp cellar of my innermost fears, as it does not bode well for the future of a race whose present and recent past hasn’t been all that stellar to begin with.
But it’s not like there’s anything I can do about it, I’m just a crusty old nerd with an unnatural propensity towards verbosity, standing alone outside the fringe of relevance, shaking my fist in rage at a generation of young people that I neither understand or relate to who by definition couldn’t give a fuck less what I think, and the utter futility of writing a 2000+ word essay attacking people who refuse to read has only just dawned on me.