To Live in America

American flag

At the height of a restless phase in my life, I lived in The Netherlands at the time; a friend asked if I would be interested in relocating to The States. I replied that I had a teenage son and he is black. It had been years since I visited America. Where did I get the idea? Think of a country that you have heard of but never visited. What picture comes to mind? Now, ask yourself why.

Yesterday morning, during my ten-kilometre trek, S, who is black American talked about the recent racially motivated police shootings in her country. There were times we slowed our pace subconsciously to match the heaviness in her heart. She made the stories more than news I followed on social media, still they were not near enough. I shared her sorrow the way I do when I hear of bombings with casualties somewhere in the world—pain, anger, helplessness, and resignation.

My plan was to rest after the walk and then complete the short story I had been working on for my blog. However, when I sat at my desk to finish the story about two women and a boy called Yellow Pawpaw, desire had fled from me. Since writing is 80% discipline and the plot lay pencilled on post-its around my desk, desire was inconsequential. I battled feelings of irresponsibility. Do you sleep when your neighbour’s house is on fire? At least not with both eyes shut because fire is greedy for oxygen, sucking oxygen wherever it finds it.

But I had not written about the fire in my backyard either. Is it not hypocritical to write about what you do not know, a phenomenon miles and miles from you?

Here is what I know. I think about America the way I do because of what I see, hear, and read. Despite the negative portrayal of Nigeria in the news, I do not buy into all the hype because I have lived in Nigeria and interacted with Nigerians.

I write in general terms, why do white people feel threatened by black men and why do black men feel anxious around the police? Is it not unreasonable to tell people to overcome their fears when we keep feeding them fearful images?  The notion of independent thought is a fallacy. You believe what you see or hear all the time and under pressure, act it out.

So, would I relocate to America?

I should know better because I am familiar with the power of the pen or images to shape opinions and the insidious ways narratives are concretized. But fear is an irrational thing.

Perhaps, it is time for a new kind of summer blockbuster. Aliens can take a break from invading the earth; they have not succeeded so far anyway. Humans can take over IMAX screens to confront problems in our communities that resemble chewing gum stuck to the heel of shoes—messy, sticky, and tricky, and we should make superheroes of the men and women who bridge the divide.

Am I for real? Will such films require jaw-dropping special effects or guarantee millions at the box office? Why change a winning formula?

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

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Mass Media in the Internet Age

social-media-550767_640

People who “proudly” state that they aren’t on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, or any social media platform, baffle me. I told someone statistics show that one in five couples meet online and she retorted that Facebook was the leading cause of divorce today, so she and her husband had deleted their accounts. I explained that people have been unfaithful since time began and the marketplace had simply changed. If Facebook were a country, it would be the largest country in the world by population, but she shook her head.

When it comes to social media, I maintain that the rules of engagement are still being written and should continue to be written. A gun in the hands of a soldier inspires confidence that our country is being protected. The same gun in the hands of a teenager walking down the street, inspires fear. I was social media shy once, then I started blogging. I now embrace social media and by extension the internet.

In the fifteenth century, Johannes Gutenberg invented a printing press system that aided the rapid mechanization of bookmaking and led to mass production of books. The implications for mass media were astounding.

According to Wikipedia, “the relatively unrestricted circulation of information and (revolutionary) ideas transcended borders, captured the masses in the Reformation and threatened the power of political and religious authorities; the sharp increase in literacy broke the monopoly of the literate elite on education and learning and bolstered the emerging middle class. Across Europe, the increasing cultural self-awareness of its peoples led to the rise of proto-nationalism …”

Sound familiar? Yes! The Arab Spring, various hashtag advocacies e.g. #bringbackourgirls, viral videos, the Occupy movement, etc.

Some say the advent of the internet and prevalence of social media is similar to Gutenberg’s work, which democratized knowledge and laid the material basis for the modern knowledge-based economy. The internet is rightly called the information super highway.

We’re living in exciting times for anyone, yes, anyone who has something to say. Social media provides an accessible platform to disseminate information and make possible bilateral intimacy, where audiences can engage with producers of content.

Not everyone is delighted with this development or taking advantage of it. A video producer grudgingly pointed out that the cutthroat business of producing videos has been made harder by social media because people and companies can upload videos made with their cell phones on YouTube. The same could be said for writers who compete with free content online. However, when trends shift, smart people look for new opportunities or create them.

I’m increasingly convinced that someday in the distant future, paper books, CDs, and DVDs will become antiques, displayed in museums and purchased in vintage stores, with articles in Wikipedia written about the history of them. These articles will be read, listened to, or watched on devices that support online content, think tablets and the Apple watch. Don’t believe me? Maybe it won’t happen in my life time, but history is on my side.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Blogging 109 … Word Travel: combating prejudice 

travel

Mark Twain’s quote from his book, The Innocents Abroad, rings true.

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.

My travels overseas have shown me how little people know about Nigeria and the African continent and revealed my prejudice and penchant for stereotypes. If you never travel and watch only one TV channel, you may conclude that Europe is awash with refugees, America with gun violence, the Middle East with terrorism, and Africa with war, poverty, and disease.

But hopping on a plane, train, or bus and going miles and miles away from home can be expensive. However, we’re not limited by budget if we can read. Literacy and internet access provide cheaper alternatives to confront narrow-mindedness.

Like most of my friends, I remember travelling to faraway places as a girl through the books I read. The writers stimulated our senses as we journeyed with them, so we were familiar not only with the sights, sounds, and smells of places, but also with their peoples and culture. We lived in Mallory Towers and were Famous Five detectives.

What we enjoyed was a kind of unilateral intimacy. But now, the internet has not only made content readily available, but also fostered greater connection. In his book, Platform, Get Noticed in a Noisy World, Michael Hyatt says that social media has taken connection to a whole new level. It makes possible bilateral intimacy—engagement. This means our virtual travel experiences are richer since we can confront a writer’s bias as well as ours in conversation. We can also give feedback and receive more insight from the contributions of others.

To me, one of the coolest things about blogging is the opportunity to travel—to journey along with readers to their worlds in the comments they leave behind. Every time I write, even on a subject I’m an authority on, I learn from the myriad perspectives readers bring. Sometimes I pour my jumbled thoughts down just waiting for readers’ comments to make sense of my thoughts.

It’s difficult to approach most topics with an ‘empty’ mind because our minds are usually already ‘full’. But if we’re willing to engage, we’ll see that we don’t have to agree with another viewpoint, sometimes all that’s needed is, “Oh, I see where you’re coming from; I’ve never walked that road before.”

Blogging has made travel—broad, wholesome, charitable (and uncharitable), views of men and things, possible for me.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2016

 

Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/en/sign-places-travel-information-429419/

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

What Do I Look Like?

selfie

The mirror in an uncrowded elevator is an invitation to look at myself, as are the floor-to-ceiling display windows in the mall. Rarely do I say no. Ever notice that when presented with a group photograph, your eyes search for you first?  Is this vanity or normal self-absorption? I have sixty-one selfies on my phone. Perhaps I should not call them selfies. The Oxford Dictionary defines a selfie as a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media. Not one of my digital self-portraits is uploaded on my social networks.

My favourite ‘selfies’ are those where I employed the tricks my eighteen-year-old friend taught me to make a selfie not resemble a selfie. All that posing and angling, so I look as though my photo is the view from another’s lens, why?

Apart from a desire to pretend that I did not tilt my head, tuck in my chin, suck in my cheeks, and find the best lighting, before stretching my hand to click, I want to try to replicate an unguarded moment—what others see when I am unaware that they are looking at me, an honest picture of me. But a selfie is manipulation, a digitally enhanced, filtered, and cropped representation of how I want to see myself and how I want others to see me.

I find selfies useful as picture diaries to share privately with friends, but too subjective to tell me what I really look like. Sam Anderson captures this paradox in his New York Times‘ article. He begins by asking: What do you look like?

You are the world’s leading authority on the subject. You have studied your face for many years, with life-or-death intensity, in almost every mirror and tinted car window and unrippled pond you have ever passed. You are the Sir Isaac Newton of your own face: the one true discoverer of its laws of motion, its particular gravity.

You are also, simultaneously, the very least qualified person in the world to know what you look like. You have no idea. You have never actually seen your face — not truly, from the outside, the way other people see it. This is because of a nonnegotiable quirk of the human anatomy: You have to use your own face to look at your face. You are both observer and observed.

Is this why we ask others, “How do I look?”

As a child, my mother was the first yardstick I used to measure my looks by. When people called me little Gina, alluding to our resemblance, I realized I was beautiful. External validation aids self-perception. I have wished on occasion that I could step out of my body and see myself. The next best thing is my reflection in the eyes of those I trust, a realistic picture that transcends the selfies on my phone.

 

Related: Beauty, A First-Class Ticket
                A Fading Glory

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Oh Dolly

OH DOLLY

 

 

My affinity for conspiracy theories ballooned and adopted a sophisticated veneer when I first moved here. In 2012, I sold my lucrative practice and waited for the Mayan apocalypse and the downfall of Facebook and the internet to no avail. Reading the Conspiracy Times halted my dejection. Through the mag, I joined a classified mission.

After three years of training, it was time to recruit others. I asked Tyrone to help me set up a Facebook account. He arrived one October day, wearing a navy hoodie with UNLV emblazoned on it.

“Was it easy making your way here?” I asked as I led him to the study.

“Why do you live in this wasteland, surrounded by solar panels? He sighed, “This is beyond frugal, man.”

“UFO sightings, global warming. It is going downhill faster than we expect—”

“Bullshit!”

The teak bookshelf in the corner housed the latest statistics, which proved my point. But I needed my Facebook account more than I need to be right.

“A coat of paint never hurt anyone.” He grumbled and pulled his seat closer to the table. “Choose a password; think alphanumeric.”

“Done.”

“Time to connect to people you know. Friend me.”

“What?”

He showed me how to send a friend request.

“Okay. Let’s hook you up with old friends—”

“But I haven’t kept in touch—”

“That’s what Facebook’s for.”

I searched for friends and sent requests. I was excited when my requests were accepted and I messaged some buddies from long ago.

We took a break on the porch, eating sandwiches and swigging from cans of root beer. I asked him about the layoffs in his company since the merger.

He shrugged. “A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.” He sprang from the bannister and the porch creaked. “What’s that,” he pointed.

“Satellite dish; they track Martian invasions—”

He shook his head. “Let’s go inside and connect you with some babes!”

I cleared our paper plates. He had created an uneven circular map on the bread slices leaving the bread crusts bereft. Earthlings were so wasteful.

Back in the study, he asked, “Names please?” and cracked his knuckles.

I looked away. “Just show me other things I can do.”

He whistled. “You don’t? . . . For your sake, I hope there are babes in your Mars.”

How could I explain transmutation? The world wasn’t ready for us yet. I hoped to build a small community on Facebook. I pointed to the screen.

“Oh that, look . . . find people you know. . . You can have up to 3000 or 5000 friends, I’m not sure—”

“I don’t want many friends.”

“This is Facebook. You don’t know what you want. Just add all the good-looking people . . .”

I examined each photo and then checked out the Timeline.

“You are too slow. A snail would have reached Utah and back!”

He took over from me and began to add friends at random. His definition of good-looking was at variance with mine. I winced.

“Wait a sec . . .” I placed my hands over his to stop the mouse.

“What?”

“That’s Dolapo!”

“Who’s she?”

“She . . . she . . .”

His impatience ruled. “Okay, I’ve added her.” And he continued adding. My mind journeyed back. What if?

He patted my back as he left, “You’re all set now. Facebook can be quite addictive. Maybe it’s what a hermit needs. ”

I thanked him and as soon as he drove off, I raced to Dolapo. Nothing on her Timeline indicated that she was married. She was still very pretty. But what was with her name, Yvonne Smith?

I kept checking to see if she’d accepted my friend request, reminding myself that I had joined Facebook to seek out fellow believers. The truth was, I had walked into Dolapo’s magnetic field and become her prisoner. She rewarded my two-week devotion by confirming my friend request. I wrote a message and deleted it.

I went to bed, but threw the covers after four hours of false sleep attempts.  She was online. My heart strained against its cage as I typed.

Hi

Hi there!

Dolapo? Is that Dolapo?

I am the artist formerly known as Dolapo. I’m called Yvonne now.

Are you related to Prince… who discovered the extraterrestrial bases on the moon?

???

Are you?

My performance gives me visibility and I accept many people as friends. No one has called me D for years. How are we connected?

Can’t you see my name?

I can, but it doesn’t ring any bells . . .

You’ve forgotten me so soon?

Pls I meet many people in my line of work…

Can’t you see my profile picture?

 

I waited. She had seen my message, but failed to reply. So, I went to bed and dreamt about asteroids colliding with the earth. A group of us from the classified mission worked with friendly aliens to rescue people. I scooped Dolapo in my arms and carried her to safety. She kissed me and called me her hero. 

The next day, I kept checking to see if she was online. The minute she was, I messaged her.

 Hi

Hi there? Dolapo?

It’s me David. Have I mistaken you for someone else? Is this not Dolapo? Dolapo Smith? Tani’s sister?


Her silence stung. I carried hope like deflated balloons. I still had not sought out other believers on Facebook. Two full days passed before her response came.

Hi David, please remind me again how we’re connected

My emotions unsettled me. Love was corrosive, reversing the effects of transmutation. But how could I let this opportunity pass? My hands trembled as I typed.

UI … set of ‘89


When she responded minutes later, I was still sitting in my study panting like a dog.

Ah, that was over 20 years ago. Please provide some context.

What more context do you want? Haven’t you seen my profile picture?

Is that how you looked 20 years ago?

Give me your number, let me call and tease you …

 

She didn’t respond. My joke had fallen flat. I was wondering how to remedy the situation, when I saw notification for a new message. I clicked greedily. She had sent a photo.
internet meme
Who did she think she was? A mere Earthling! 

Dolapo, I used to visit you in your hostel on campus. And during the holidays, I would buy suya and bring to your house in Ibadan.

David, thanks but I don’t remember.

What do you mean, you don’t remember? A man who came to your room every day and to your house many times? So all this while, I wasn’t even existing for you?

David, have a nice life, I’m out.

Look Dolapo or Yvonne or artist, a man can’t be after a girl for twenty-six years. Enough is enough. You too have a nice life!

 

I deactivated my Facebook account and picked up the latest copy of Conspiracy Times. The cover stole my attention: Uncovered D-Day 2016. I scanned the article, a familiar excitement racing through my veins. I pulled the receptor from the bookshelf and set it on the table. Then I tinkered with the transmitter. It took a while, but I found the frequency.

I ran outside and stood in the force field created by the satellite dishes. The dot of light in the black sky grew bigger. The grass swayed and plants shook. My legs quivered as the flying saucer hovered above. The blood moon prediction was a hoax, but 2016 was sure. Despite NASA’s denials, the pole shift had started.

I smiled, closed my eyes, and waited for the pull. That will show Mark Zuckerberg and Google and Dolapo. Yes!

The phosphorescent beam penetrated my being. I held my breath for as long as I could. My reflection in the giant eye of the alien who steered the saucer, shocked me. The outline of my human heart appeared first and then throbbed like a living thing. The verdict came through the speakers of the spacecraft. 

Abort Mission. All Systems Abort Mission.
Love Spell. Transmutation Unaccomplished.

The saucer rose and receded, twinkling in the night sky. I fell on the ground and cried, “Oh Dolly!”

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

Twice Played

twice played

 

I thought he was a nutter. But it was either him or the girl spooning rice from a white paper bag with wagamama embossed in black. The smell of fried rice caused the contents of my stomach to heave. I turned away from her and walked towards him.

He was leaning back, one shoulder edging the window. Two fingers formed a V beside his head, while his other hand went to work in rapid movements. He set his face this way and that.

“May I?” I looked at the rucksack on the seat.

His eyes met mine and blood rushed to his face. He mumbled something and gathered his rucksack.

I sat down and resisted the urge to judge. People take selfies all the time. Outside the window, the fields and rivers rushed by. I stretched my legs and closed my eyes.

“Cou . . . could you do me a favour?” he rubbed my arm.

I swallowed my irritation and produced a sitting-next-to-another-homo sapiens-in-the-train smile.

“Please can you take a selfie . . . with me?”

“What?”

“A selfie together . . . I . . . I just want to make me girlfriend jealous . . .”

Behind his glasses, his eyelashes were long and straight, reminding me of the fake lashes Sharon wore. Dark curly hair and full lips, a geek like the one I had once loved.

“Will you, please?”

“Eh . . . How old is your girlfriend?”

“I’m twenty-four and she’s your age, twenty-one.” He held out his phone and leaned towards me.

I leaned away. He looked twenty and I had guessed his girlfriend was eighteen. I am twenty-seven. Numbers mean nothing. I remembered twenty-one and pleasure stroked something inside me. That geek from long ago. I leaned in.

“But, why do you want to make her jealous?”

He put his head on my shoulder. Before I could blink, click.

“Ssssh!” A silver-haired woman sitting across us put one finger to her lips and gestured to the silence icon on the window. Her frown finished her sentence.

We muffled our laughter like teenagers reveling in our youthful secret. His right hand snaked along my shoulders, drawing me closer. I started to protest, but the woman looked up from her book and glowered at me. So I stuck out my tongue at her and mouthed, “Twenty-one forever.” His left hand worked faster—click, click, click.

As we disembarked, he said, “Thank you so much.”

“For the optics, right? Good luck!”

He smiled. I waved.

Two days later when I saw his friend request, I hesitated. Then confirmed. He messaged me immediately.

hi

hi…

it’s me

i know

how do u know?

ur photo? duh?  🙂

oh  🙂

how did you find me?

ur name on ur train card

oh hmmm. K. was she jealous?

ummm

?

change ur rship status

y?

so she’ll believe

believe what?

brb …

I tapped my foot, perused my news feed, liking this and that, willing the message icon to turn red. After forty minutes, I sighed and liked one more cat photo before going to bed. The next morning, I had 107 notifications; likes and comments on a photo I was tagged in. My heart raced as I clicked on the post. The caption: my girlfriend likes it hot. I screamed. Just then, one new message.

hi  🙂

WTF is wrong with you? Take down d photo now!!!!

y? u don’t like coffee?

that’s beside the point!

everyone likes starbucks.

I.Am.Not.Your.Girlfriend.

brb …

I called in sick and seethed through a day of brb-conversations; dead ends that made me curse. I fielded unhelpful comments in response to the disclaimer I put up on my Timeline. The Support Team recommended untagging myself, since the photos did not violate their community rules. Meanwhile, they would investigate. Every spare minute, I lived on his page. Five hundred and twenty-seven comments. Who the hell was this geek!

Sharon believed in shaping destinies. “Good things don’t come to people who wait. Sh*t does,” she said.

She asked around and found this guy from Serbia. People whispered that his large hands, which now tended roses, had done things during the war. We met him in the alley where the back doors of restaurant kitchens opened and rubbish bins stood in rows of twos, three figures bathed in darkness. When I handed him the cash, he didn’t count it.

“Just teach him a lesson . . . no more.” I looked up, but not at his eyes.

He didn’t reply.

That night, I slept sitting up in bed with my laptop on my thighs. By the next morning, the post had disappeared. I returned to work.

Two days later, my boss called me to her office. Two men in black suits sat at the small conference table. They introduced themselves before escorting me to the police station.

The man from Serbia was already there. He crossed his arms and wore a scowl. My tormentor stood a few feet away, a gash on his forehead and one eye swollen shut. I glanced away. The detectives offered me a seat.

“Wait here,” the taller one said.

I wondered if I would wake up to my life and tell Sharon about my dream, but someone tapped my shoulder. I shrieked and jumped. She was five feet two with slanted eyes under a black fringe bob. Twenty-two maybe, but numbers mean nothing.

“I, Anita,” she stretched her hand.

I paused and then took it. Could it get any worse?

She pointed with her chin to the man from Serbia. “You not his type. Why you do it?”

Who was she? Leather jacket, skinnys, knee-high boots—

“I writing a book. My life f**ked up now. Photo on internet and Instagram. Tell your story. We make book; sell to publisher. America publisher? Quick money. Or Kindle.” She shrugged. “Which you like?”

Wait; hang on, internet, Instagram? “Your photo is where?”

“Yours hot. More likes. Men like blonds.”

Images of my head photoshopped on a body with huge breasts and captioned, Date Girls from Russia, floated in my mind. No way!

She stretched her phone towards me and I grabbed it. Compared to this, the photo of me drinking coffee on geek’s lap was timid. I was lying in a bathtub. Red rose petals tried to make me decent, barely. I shook my head. The account belonged to one Don Serbia. Hang on, the profile picture. His f**king profile picture! I looked at the man from Serbia, rage seizing my heart.

“This one pretty. You see more?” She retrieved her phone and began scanning.

I backed her and called Sharon. Sharon listened and then said, “Don’t panic. I know of a guy from Armenia—”

“Very funny! Is he on Pinterest?”

I closed my eyes so my tears didn’t fall. My promotion was due in two weeks—the first person under thirty to make senior manager.

Slanted eyes tugged my sleeve. “Why you do it? Evly publisher want know . . . what’s your story?”

The detective returned and motioned to me. I stood and swept my hair to the side. She looked at my wool-blend coat and fingered the Armani label as though she had found gold.

“I wait for you. You smart; speak English like native. We make good team—coffee and cream. America publisher, yes?”

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Time to Read

Blog articles on my WordPress Reader started appearing with an estimated reading time (ERT) tucked at the bottom left-hand corner, about two weeks ago. So, for example, my blog posts looked like this.

 

ERT 1

 


ERT 2

 

Many writers I know, including myself, lean towards verbosity. We are in love with our words. When you are in love, words are harder to kill. A blog post may therefore take hours to complete. As Samuel Jackson notes, “What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.” At first, it was jarring to see work that took me seventy-two hours to produce reduced to a three-minute read, word count notwithstanding. But this is the reality of life online; writers have much to share, readers have little attention to spare. Erik Qualman caps the average person’s attention span at seven seconds, one second less than a goldfish’s eight seconds.

If the first three sentences of an article is followed by: read 1827 more words, only several things make me continue reading—familiarity with the author, curiosity occasioned by a superb opening line, the title, prior knowledge or interest in the subject, or a referral.

Time is like a loaf of bread, there are only so many slices I can cut. My life is characterized by acute time rationing—ever heard that time waits for no man? It is as if the world is spinning faster and faster on its axis and I am getting dizzier and dizzier from information pollution. How long, thus becomes a valid question.

I mean, if completion is my goal, then time is often the decider between a three-course meal and a sandwich-to-go at lunch break or between a 500-page novel and a collection of short stories on a one-hour flight. Would you watch a YouTube video without checking its length?

I find myself liking ERT appended to blog articles. ERT on platforms like Longreads and Medium helps me narrow my plethora of reading options. ERT even trumps word count in my view because it makes mathematics unnecessary i.e. dividing total number of words by average reading speed.

Similarly, in making a case for why we find listicles appealing, Maria Konnikova notes that an article written as a numbered list, “. . . promises a story that’s finite, whose length has been quantified upfront. Together, these create an easy reading experience, in which the mental heavy lifting of conceptualization, categorization, and analysis is completed well in advance of actual consumption—. . . And there’s little that our brains crave more than effortlessly acquired data.”

 

listicles

 

She writes, “The more we know about something—including precisely how much time it will consume—the greater the chance we will commit to it. The process is self-reinforcing: we recall with pleasure that we were able to complete the task (of reading the article) instead of leaving it undone and that satisfaction, in turn, makes us more likely to click on lists again—even ones we hate-read. The social psychologist Robert Zajonc, who made his name studying the connection between emotion and cognition, argued that the positive feeling of completion in and of itself is enough to inform future decisions. Preferences, goes his famous coinage, need no inferences.”

I cannot help but draw parallels, unscientific they may be, between these observations about listicles and the value of knowing ERT upfront. Hampered by time, ERT helps me choose what to read now and what to save for later.

When Slate introduced ERT, this 3.5-minute video mocked Millennials’ propensity to want to know everything now.

http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/ppx1hm/slate-s–minu tes-to-read–feature 

Two years on, and I think Slate was on to something. Do you think blog articles should display estimated reading time?

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.