Monday, 28 October 2013

Reading, writing and the art of laziness

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net (Stuart Miles)



I'll admit it right here, I am a lazy writer.
It's so much easier to conjure up images using pop culture references than to explain away a behavior or to characterize a person.
For example, when Pamela Wallin stood up in the Senate to skewer Marjorie LeBreton and Carolyn Stewart Olson for being jealous of her infamy, the image that immediately came to mind was Rachel Macadam torturing Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls. I started that on Twitter and 56 seconds later, another journalist came up with the same reference. Was he copying me? I know he was following me. Of course he was, I said, but maybe (a reference to Louis C.K. I am shameless).
Maybe he saw the same movie.
As a writer, I will never, ever, win a Nobel Prize for Literature and neither will Tabatha Southey who wrote a shameless piece of satire in Saturday's Globe and Mail about the Senate debacle. Read it here
I'm sure that Alice Munro could write a fine piece on the Senate without using a single movie or pop culture reference, but then I am not Alice Munro and I write this blog for free.
Tabitha Southey should not be such a lazy writer, as she gets paid to write her drivel. Ditto Margaret Wente, the Milton Berle of her generation. (This is about joke stealing, for those of you who are too young to remember Uncle Miltie.)
As a generation of writers, we are so influenced by multi-media that we cannot think for ourselves any longer. And the proliferation of video is making things worse.
Every time we log on to a newspaper site  now, we have to immediately press the pause button to stop whatever lame video is playing along with the story we are trying to read. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. If I wanted to watch video, I'd tune into You Tube.
The proliferation of Smart Phones is also making us a whole lot dumber. We can't even have a family dinner at our house anymore, or watch a Sunday movie, without the sound of whirring or clicking or the appearance of sudden pop ups or instant messages from the kids' phones. I have to admit, I'm just as bad. I find it difficult to get through one single hour without checking to see if someone sent me a message or re-tweeted some bon mots of mine.
Whatever happened to eat your dinner, they'll call back?
We are, in fact, slaves to the Internet as one New York Times writer suggested on the weekend.
As a result, neither the writer nor the reader has one single original thought between them.
As a society, we've become really, really lazy in a cultural sense. The movie studios remake classics instead of green lighting an original script. We rarely pick up books anymore. Personally, I have several books on my Kobo that are languishing there because I'm having trouble with a Boss Fight on my Nintendo DS.
What is to become of us?
Of course, we're lazy, but maybe we're getting smarter.
We're certainly getting quicker. We don't have to go down to the library anymore to look something up. Wikipedia provides instant answers. Research studies that once gathered dust in a professor's cubby someplace are actually getting noticed by the media who are desperate to fill the 24-hour cycle. As we saw with the Senate scandal, learned folk are all over the television news programs hoovering up their 200 bucks "expert" fees.
We are also being forced to become more visual. Of course, of course we are. But maybe young people are becoming readers and writers. OMG, not necessarily better readers and writers, but readers and writers all the same.
The Internet has turned my kids at least into voracious readers. There isn't a topic that they don't know something about. They write, they quip, they retort, they challenge.
So maybe things aren't so bad after all.
I have no evidence to back up anything I'm saying.
I'm just too lazy to look it up.

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