Our Country Has a Substance Abuse Problem and It Isn’t All Chemical
We live in a society where written words are trivialized like never before.
Our world teeters in the balance over 280 characters on Twitter. There is little doubt that when our Commander in Chief tweets, the world pays attention, leaving us all at the mercy of whatever 280 characters he chooses to type.
Another country influenced our presidential election with written words, for cryin’ out loud.
Don’t you think it’s odd that in a world overflowing with texts, tweets, emails, instant messages, and Facebook posts that we don’t write actual letters to one another anymore? We’ve forgotten how to write love letters, but by George, we can send a pretty little string of purple hearts.
Newspapers and magazines are dying while screens occupy every conceivable space in our lives, bloated with words, crawls and banners, so maybe it’s possible we have too many words to deal with.
The Gettysburg Address had 272 words. That’s not even long enough to get it ranked by Google’s search engines.
The Bill of Rights has 475 words — long enough for ranking, but only with a serious SEO overhaul.
The Declaration of Independence has 1,458 words. There you go. That’s a nice length for a blog post.
Maybe it’s not a word-count issue, I mean, look at the Bible or the Koran. Plenty of words there.
It isn’t the number of words that matters; it’s the substance.
And we have a giant substance abuse problem. All of us.
We write without thinking.
We write without commitment.
Our fingers fly across keyboards, sharing lame opinions of this product or that restaurant or rebutting the most trivial of things posted by strangers on topics we forget as soon as the next post appears on our screen.
In 2016, only 61% of the more than two million college-bound students who took the ACT were found to be college ready in writing, pretty much leaving the remaining 39% either taking remedial courses or hauling their sub-par writing-skill asses straight into the workforce.
Add the 1.6 million high school graduates that didn’t even take the ACT, and that puts the number who leave school with crappy writing skills at well over two million. Every. Damn. Year.
You can argue that we’re failing at math and science education at an even higher rate, but here’s the thing — we don’t all need to be scientists. We all write. And we all need to write better, damn it!
Want to be an actor? Write better.
Want to be an entrepreneur? Write better.
Want to do that whole 4-hour work week thing? Write better.
Want to travel the world? Write better.
Want to make it onto some Forbes list? Write better.
Want to be anything? Write. Better.
Write with substance.
Write with clarity.
Write with passion.
Write with a commitment to the words and the world will listen.
I write about travel. I think of myself a travel encourager. I believe that travel changes us — usually for the better. It allows us to see beyond the boundaries of our narrow-mindedness.
As I said in the beginning, my job is stringing words together. The word “influencer” has been used in connection with my name and if I influence people to travel more, that’s fantastic. It’s what I’m paid to do.
But the more I travel, the more I write, the more I read, the more I live in this world of powerful words being written and shared without any thought for the consequences, the more convinced I am that the one thing we need most right now, this year, this month, this week — is better writing.
So if there’s one thing I can “influence” you to do, it would be to tackle your own substance abuse problem.
Stop writing crap and learn to write like your life depends on it — because honestly, it does.