I’d like to talk about the crazy, twitterific fast, faster, ludicrous-speed world we live in, and what it means for those in the arts and entertainment field trying desperately to keep up with it all. I became acutely aware of this issue while writing a Flash Fiction story for submission (more about that in future posts).
This really is a ‘brave new world’ we live in, a world of micro-stories and tweeted news articles and the like in this instant communication age we live in which seems to pick up speed every which way we turn. I have some thoughts on the whole “Instagrata” society we seem to be immersed in these days which, the more I see and hear, turns out to be something that has been around for a while, from the rise of pulp stories and short magazine articles in modern culture to radio and television which all seem hell bent on shoving as much story at us in as little time as possible to make room for more commercials, but this phenomenon has reached a new level of insanity thanks to the internets. Head over to the YouTube stats page for a second and wrap your head around some of those staggering statistics. Three billion video views per day, more video uploaded in a month than the three major networks put out in sixty years, 48 hours of video uploaded every minute. The numbers are indeed staggering, but wait.
What does all this mean in terms of how much actual time people devote to enjoying each of those offerings? I must admit, that sort of statistic was far more difficult to find in a casual internet search, but it has certainly piqued my curiosity. They’ll never say, apparently, but how often do people switch to the next bit of infotainment? A few minutes? Less than a minute? Given the stats above, not to mention YouTube’s usual 10 minute limit for uploads, it’s not hard to imagine that the virtual remote control gets quite a workout.
Considering those stats (and what I’ve extrapolated, hopefully with a modicum of reason and logic), is it me or is this “instant entertainment” thing getting somewhat out of hand? I mean, seriously, does every single popular video have to be 45 seconds or less? I blame Twitter. I dunno about Twitter, maybe I’m just showing my age but I’m sort of reaching my “hold yer horses!” point with this whole deal. Tell your story in 30 seconds or less, or I don’t have the attention span to bother with you! :p
But anyway, yeah. Flash Fiction is interesting. It’s obviously not a product of the internet per se (many flash fiction websites illustrate this by pointing out the famous six word story supposedly attributable to Ernest Hemmingway). And at least it forces you to really think about what you want to write and prioritize every word. Brevity can be useful, even important, I can’t argue that point too much. And personally the super short story was intriguing enough a writing challenge to motivate me towards write something I wouldn’t normally attempt and then even go so far as to submit it and see if I could get it published online. For the time it takes to write something that short it was definitely worth trying it on for size just for the fun of it.
In any case, as far as instagrata is concerned it certainly appears that it is here to stay. There are some areas of push-back, for instance the notion of ‘slow food’ and people getting away from the drive-through, grab-and-go eating culture that seems to be losing some of the popularity it enjoyed for some several decades at least. But in terms of entertainment, information gathering, 24 hour news, and more generally the overall way in which we view and interact with all these sources of infotainment that are brought into our homes, ideas such as Flash Fiction seem to be settling in for the long haul.
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