NPR is asking if you can write your love story in just six words. Reminds me of the class assignment turned in by a student who was asked to write a short story that had royalty, intrigue, and passion. This is what he came up with – ‘The Queen is pregnant. Who did it?’
From blogs to microblogging, from poems to haikus, we’re seeing brevity impact every form. 5-6 second ads are now routine, There are 3-word product promises (Just Do It), 2 minute noodles and 20 over cricket matches – where a five-day game in its traditional leisurely format has now turned into a scrappy fiesty contest that enables it to compete with games like basketball and football. And create enough scandal to gladden every media moghul’s heart.
What happened to long love letters penned with care? Today’s Romeos cannot craft an SMS with panache, let alone string a sentence that sends the girl into raptures. On painful episodes of Dare 2 Date, participants mouth cliches and look awkward in seconds. In restaurants, young couples sit opposite each other and talk incessantly on their mobiles – to someone else! The only ad for Airtel where the guy said something romantic, he was borrowing from the book of romantic quotes in a library. Being original takes far too much effort and may not bring about the intended returns.
Billions of messages are being sent out every month, but they have little by way of memorability. Word abbreviations have gone into highly specialised territory where they look more like industrial marketing serial numbers. Take a look at this extensive chart and you’ll know what I mean. There’s a world of difference between a haiku and the love memoirs linked to above. Haikus are distilled expressions, rich with nuance and meaning. The memoirs are vacuous, simplistic. Six-word love stories expect readers to fill up the blanks when there is nothing but empty silences. Abundance is a recipe for drowning in dullness.