When asked about the available means of persuasion in society today, college students talk more about YouTube, twitter, and photo-sharing (Instagram and Snapchat) more than anything else. They share that they’ll view short videos–less than three minutes long–and short news or blogs, perhaps only what fits on a screen. If it can’t be said in two minutes, perhaps it shouldn’t be said at all.
Gone are the days of the long, well-articulated essay and the long, beautifully spoken 50-minute lectures from my professors that used no technology whatsoever (because it didn’t exist). What’s happening to us?
A student reminds me that all is not lost. There’s still hope in one thing: the power of story! Students still read literature and love movies. They’ll watch two movies a day sometimes. They’ll read fiction. Stories still capture our attention and hold it. They change us. Stories protest our culture’s shrinking attention span.
All day, I think about what it’s going to take to speak and persuade in such a culture as this. It’s going to take story. It’s going to take truth distilled down to the perfect verbs and adjectives. Everything’s shrinking down to something essential. Perhaps this isn’t a terrible thing.