Last week I posted a 2-part post on the use of social media for fundraising. Nestled in among the many thoughtful comments about that post was the suggestion that the post was just too long. Later, that same person posted to the same effect at Twitter: “Dang that was a long post!”
That “long post” was 800 words. In a standard, single-spaced text document, that is about a page and a half.
At first, I took the comment to heart. I know sometimes I use this blog to think out loud, and that such thinking can lead to lengthier posts.
When I considered editing down the post, however, I realized I could spend an hour and still only shave off perhaps 100 words. My guess is that the remaining 700 words still would not have been “short enough.”
Then this happened: The Chronicle of Philanthropy picked up my post, and abridged the guts out of it, turning my 800 words into 200 words.
What was the result? While readers had thoughtfully debated the merits of the “real” post, Chronicle readers, in short sound-bite paragraphs, vehemently disagreed with the abridged version. If you read the comments at my post here, and read the comments for the Chronicle’s abridged version, you would never think people were reading the same piece. Truth be told, after reading the abridged version, I am not sure even I would agree with it!
In the era of Lincoln, a political debate would go on all day. A single speech might last three hours. Three hours!
Sound bites, 4-paragraph blog posts and 140 character Twitter posts will not change our world. True change requires thoughtful discourse, with time to digest and reflect, time to refocus and change our assumptions, to consider different ways of thinking and being. (That is why, for example, our 5-day Immersion course for consultants is 5 days – one cannot simply dip a toe in the water and “Voila!” transform one’s way of being!)
Don’t get me wrong. I love Twitter. It is a fabulous party and I have met amazing people there.
But if I meet someone interesting at a party, that party conversation isn’t likely to change my thinking. That change will instead happen after the party, when we head out for breakfast and talk until dawn.
There – done. And only 393 words.