Too Lazy; Doesn’t Read (TL;DR)

  • Man throws book high into the air, text on right reads too long; didn't read

Image Source: iStock; modified by Jen Dolan.

If you are already mad at me because of the title then you might just be one of those that needs to read this the most.

Originally this phrase was Too Long Didn’t Read or TL;DR. This expression was first used on me by someone I considered a friend. After looking up the new acronym, I was insulted and a little hurt. Well, not immediately. I knew that they were busy with school and had family issues that took up a lot of their time and mental capacity. Then it occurred to me that if in fact they were too busy or too tired, why did they take the time to even be where they could see what I wrote? After all, it is not as though I wrote it out in soup in the kitchen floor. So, they must have had another reason for taking the time to write those four letters. What could those reasons be?

After discarding the usual excuses, I realized that they were sending me a message. I felt there were two possible messages. The first was the best message, saying, “I don’t have time to read this right now, but will.” If that was the case, the person could really have said it better. The second message possibility, not so nice, “What you have to say is not important to me.”

Of course not everybody likes to read everything that pops up on the internet. The problem is that this person took the time to actually hit reply and announce how they feel to the world. Now we talk about cancel culture, but at the time it was not in common usage. That is exactly how I felt.

They could have just ignored my message but didn’t. That sends a message too. The open rejection of something that someone put time and effort can be seen as a rejection of that person and their importance to a relationship. Imagine if your best friend stopped answering phone calls or text messages? How would you feel?

Writing has a long tradition of preserving our deepest thoughts and conveys the inner workings of our minds like no other medium can. Video and interactive media add perspectives and dimensions, but nothing has the depth that writing can have.

What am I talking about when I mention depth? On the surface, we have the things we can see or experience: who, what, when, where. There are dimensions we cannot directly share, like how or why something happened. Reading the writing of others may be the only way we have of sharing the entire experience.

Experience may be the best teacher, but there are some things which we may never be able to experience. In these cases, reading may be our best if not only option. Certainly video can share the same perspectives and the images, however if you have had to review a piece of information over a few times, nothing beats text for random and repeated access.

Like the spoken word, reading and writing can be tools of dialog. Even with advances in recording technologies, the written word is still more accessible. This article was written on a phone while someone slept in another room. You could read this just as easily while on the train to work, while rocking your baby to sleep, or while pretending to be doing something important while ignoring your annoying siblings. The same might not always be said for watching a video. I certainly would have had to turn up the lights and make a lot of noise as I talked into the camera.

We can share much of the same information in a podcast, a YouTube video, or an article. With text, though, it is much easier to drill down into ideas and share our musings with others.

So if someone posts something that you don’t want to read, don’t read it. For your own sake, don’t broadcast the fact that something isn’t important to you or that you are being willfully ignorant unless lazy and ignorant friends are the ones you want to have.