How Much Is Enough?

“Ark,” of A Tale Unfolds fame (or is that infamy?) and photographer extraordinaire, made this comment on another blog and it intrigued me enough to write a short post about it.

Cultural background may well be the reason why some feel they need a paragraph or more to express an idea.

As many who regularly visit my blog already know, I’m not a fan of lengthy blog comments (or blog posts either, for that matter). Although it’s not my practice to moderate visitor remarks, I concede that I do occasionally share my preference-for-less-words to the “offender.”

I have, at times, wondered why the sheer number of words disturbs me so. Perhaps my discomfort harkens back to a high school English teacher who taught me that too many written words tend to become superfluous. Her admonition sank deep and ever since then, I’ve made a concerted effort to be economical in my writing – and perhaps this is why it vexes me when others are not.

Anyway, going back to Ark’s comment – why do you feel some individuals feel the need to write lengthy discourses when sharing their viewpoint? Is it a cultural thing, as he suggests? Or is it because the writer feels they must “explain” things in order to be fully understood?  Or are some individuals simply long-winded?

Please be aware this post is not directed at any particular individual(s) … however, if you feel a nudge as you’re reading it, there could be a reason. 😉

71 thoughts on “How Much Is Enough?

  1. I’m not convinced that it is cultural background. It’s probably an ego thing. I have seen the problem referred to as “diarrhea of the typewriter.”

    I have the reverse problem — my comments tend to be too terse.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. 😄 Nan, I am certainly guilty of being overly verbose on my keyboard. I do apologize for it when I’m unaware that it has gotten annoyingly pedantic—not so apologetic when I’m so determined to drive home important(?) points and their supporting sources, etc. I know you know what I mean without me going into a “dissertation” about it. 😉 But I do humbly take ownership for my sometimes (often?) lack of being more concise. I do very much appreciate the patience you have shown me here. I’m sure I don’t always deserve your kindness and tact Ma’am. ❤️

    If I may, regarding this being a cultural phenomenon, I would say not so much but I think it is a contributing factor of familial, educational (or lack of grasping it, learning it fully) in those relative areas of Grammar. In my schooling I never excelled in English writing/grammar and construction. :/ Maybe a small part of my poor writing-skills can be blamed on my sub-par Middle school and High school classes/teachers inside a sub-par school district in a lower-middle class old suburb in South Dallas. But I should not blame my environments and where I was born and raised. It’s a factor, but a small one.

    My father was also an obsessive stickler for perfection; he was a college-grad mechanical engineer as well as a devout U.S. Marine Corp soldier. Perfection in all the details was not optional, but demanded… without exception, ever! And see, looky here. I’ve easily typed up too many words again. 🙄 From a psychological point of view Nan, to this day I am subconsciously afraid of disappointing my Dad’s high standards, in everything, and fearful of his harsh disappointment in failure. And he has been dead for almost 31-years! Geeezzz. 🤦‍♂️

    One final note, I promise. 😉 LOL

    Also, due to some very traumatic painful experiences earlier in my life which includes my two divorces and now lost children, part of my responsibility and failures in those situations I was too silent, too afraid of hurting other’s feelings or opinions of me—it’s called in clinical psychology “Codependency.” As part of my recovery/rehab, I HAD to learn to freely, openly communicate in order to gain self-confidence to not be codependent, among other dysfunctions. LOL

    Do you think I’ve achieved that goal Nan? 😉

    Liked by 4 people

      • 😄 That may be true Maka. In my Dad’s house interrupting someone was a HUGE no-no. Everything had to be Marine Corp orderly, precise, and “respect” liberally shown… verbally and non-verbally. 😬

        Over the last 5-years or so I have been working diligently to swing the pendulum back to center, if you get what I mean. There’s good days and bad. LOL

        Liked by 1 person

    • Let’s just say, in response to your question, that I could probably write most everything you did in half the words. Part of what I see in your writings, PT, is the use of too many superfluous remarks.

      Case in point: If I may, regarding this being a cultural phenomenon, I would say not so much but I think it is a contributing factor of familial, educational (or lack of grasping it, learning it fully) in those relative areas of Grammar.

      How about instead — Some may say this is a cultural phenomenon, although I would disagree. I do feel, however, grammar is affected by familial and education factors.

      Now, it’s entirely possible I missed your core point … but if I did, would this not validate my argument? 😊

      Liked by 4 people

      • I would have phrased it:

        “I don’t agree that it’s a cultural phenomenon, but I believe family and education influence a person’s grammar.”

        This is why I couldn’t work as a freelance editor. They tend to charge by the word, and I’d constantly be driving myself into negative territory.

        Liked by 1 person

        • You put it much better. After I posted it, I could see it wasn’t actually a good rewording. Thanks!

          (BTW, I’ve done some editing and generally charged an hourly fee. By-the-word seems like it would result in MORE words, not less … ??)

          Liked by 1 person

          • If I may say so, I would indeed tend to agree with you that, if I were working as an editor and were indeed charging by the word in a fee-per-word manner of doing things, the result of my doing it in that way would doubtless tend to be an even more pronounced proliferation and elaboration of overly-wordy verbosity of the most prolix kind, rather than a reduction of that less-than-desirable phenomenon. Which is to say, if I might make so bold, that my editing work would, under the circumstances so accurately and perceptively described, suck.

            The question is why some people write as if they were being paid by the word when they aren’t.:-)

            Liked by 1 person

        • Well, I didn’t put a timer on myself, but I would guesstimate it took about 5 min. to write the comment (I wanted to word it so as not to offend you) … and about 2 seconds to hit the “post comment” button.

          BTW, I generally compose as I type. Of course, topics that are/could be controversial often take a bit longer than those where I just reference an article. Overall I would say I spend anywhere from 30-60 minutes to write and edit a post before I hit “Publish.” Again, it depends on the topic.

          Hope that answers your question.

          Liked by 1 person

          • It does answer it Nan, thank you. And thank you for considering my fragile ego and not offending it. 😉 That’s what I admire about you: kind tactfulness with a splash of Caliente pepper. 🌶️🤭

            I had a good feeling that it didn’t take you hardly any time to compose compared to me. Since I am overly cognizant of my sub-par writing, including spelling errors and grammatically correct structure, what takes you 5-10 mins takes me 45-60 mins. I’m constantly rechecking everything for errors, proper composition, clarity, etc, THEN I am always interrupted during that time, editing, re-editing, re-re-editing 😄 by many other non-WordPress interruptions. Just typing THIS reply took me near 30-45 mins! 🤦🏻‍♂️🤪 I rarely have days/evenings of total silence and no world, no people, no tasks & businesses around me to finish a task uninterrupted. Those are only quick 5, 10, maybe 15-min windows. Stop, go, stop, go, ad infinitum. I’m starting to think that WordPress has become too demanding on my time. Their recently new “Block Editor” is an EFFIN NIGHTMARE for me now. 😡😒

            Liked by 1 person

            • I don’t want to carry this too far, but part of what I see in your writing is “explanations” and “asides,” along with additional (unnecessary) adjectives and adverbs — all of which end up simply being more words.

              For an experiment — if you’re interested — why don’t you email me a paragraph or two on something that you’re considering as a response … or even for your own blog … and let me offer my input?

              Liked by 1 person

  3. A personal matter perhaps? Either you feel, or you don’t feel impelled to explain things further. It should be unnecessary to clarify … I mean…; …in other words…
    So I share your teacher’s opinion that too many written words tend to become superfluous. The same happens with images and spoken words. How many speeches and interviews are interesting but a bit too long? How often do even good speakers repeat statements to fill gaps; “…as I mentioned before…”?
    It is difficult to use just the “right” amount of words. Of course it is, no doubt about it. But I do my best, with the help of some useful suggestions I once found in an essay by George Orwell:
    – What am I trying to say?
    – What words will express it, and what image or idiom will make it clearer?
    – Long words can very often be replaced by short ones; and when a word can be cut out, cut it out.
    – Use the active rather than the passive.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I write what I feel, as you know. I might apologies for being lengthy, but only because I cannot stop myself. Every sentence insures another sentence. As a child my father would not let me

    Liked by 2 people

  5. That good American, Mark Twain, in one of his lectures wrote one should not use many words where fewer would do unless you were being paid per word. Or use a complex when a simple one would do. I follow this to the letter.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. Some concepts are genuinely complex and require a lot of detail and examples to explain clearly.

    Some writers think they’re impressing everyone with their erudition (though these usually are revealing more about themselves than they think).

    Some neglect the writer’s duty to consider his writing from the reader’s viewpoint, and don’t realize how offputting a huge indigestible block of text looks.

    But I’ve never noticed that people from any particular culture are more given to prolixity than others.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I used the term ‘cultural background’ because on Jim’s post he informed me that, maybe the reason for the style/length of comment was because the person I replied to was from a Canadian/Romanian background and this was why it took an entire comment to express what was ostensibly a reference to meditation.
      When I asked if this was so the person in question answered ‘Yes.’

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I feel some want to give an in depth post about something, while some who want to find out more about it, or get a more rounded view of something would want to read a longer post. In a way it’s similar to podcasts, although I find them easier to listen to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • But what good is an “in depth” post if people don’t read it? This isn’t to say there are some who would gobble up every word when it’s a topic that interests them … but I would say these people are few and far between — especially on the internet. Thus, IMO, it would seem to be a smarter move to perhaps write a series of posts instead.

      In addition, most of us lead busy lives (not so much now because of the virus, but ordinarily) and taking the time to read a 1000+ word post (or listen to an hour-long podcast) just isn’t practicable.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, I think not. Consider the academic subculture of philosophers. They cannot possibly write something short and pithy, They all seem to be being paid by the word, and the more obscure the word, the better. :o)

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Ah, Wordy is my middle name! It is a genetic trait, the result of my schooling, a character flaw, a … argh!

    Actually, times change. I remember reading one of Winston Churchill’s books in which a single sentence took up a page and a half. That no longer flies, of course.

    It seems that people’s attention spans are getting smaller. There have always been many people who would not even consider reading a long book (and others who gobble them like peanuts), but TL/DR has become the watch word/tag of our culture.

    And I still ahve so many words to share, and new word combinations, and … and…

    Liked by 4 people

    • I don’t think the absolute length of a text is the problem. I don’t find it hard to read a long book which is written in clear, straightforward, lively language. But even a paragraph written in clunky, verbose, grammatically-awkward language, by somebody who seems more interested in showing off how many big words he knows than in getting his point across clearly, can feel too long.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I tend to write long comments – and I appologize my behaviour. It sometimes appears as if some people spend more time trying to read what I write, than what it took for me to write down my thoughts. I hate the smartphone single-finger poking, as on my own computer with the ten-finger technique I can produce a multitude of words as fast as I think them.

    Naturally, I understand that often enough, my comments are read by those I would have preferred for them to be read by, because they are the very same people, who do not like to read long comments.

    It seems to be the nature of the “social media”, that anyone can pitch in their own opinion on anything without having to base it on anything, or without any arguments or grounding on why they have that opinion.

    One cultural trait, that affects me is, that sometimes we Finns tend to be like the Ents of Tolkien, in that “we never say anything unless it is worth taking a long time to say”. It goes with our culture in wich doing something half baked is not seen worth doing at all. Such would have killed our ancestors right off in the harsh cold climate of this country.

    I try to keep my comments short in the future. I have tried before and failed, but I keep trying, as long as I am allowed to.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Perhaps, but I do not see my culture as an excuse, rather an explanation. It does not excuse my behavior even if it explains it. Perhaps I am not cut for this method of communication at all. Yet, I can try to remedy my ways.

        Like

        • Notice I also used the word “reason” — which would encompass your remarks about your culture. It was not meant as a criticism — and I apologize if it came across that way.

          Like

          • Oh, I did not take it as criticism at all. You see, this is what I am affraid of. That, if I am not thorough enough and try to express myself in short terms, I get misunderstood. And I am helpless with emoticons and emojis too. 😉

            I merely tried to say, that I promise to make an effort of less verbose expression of my self in the future.

            Liked by 2 people

  10. I tend to write for the readers who are obviously disadvantaged, for example I try to explain in great detail what I mean because someone like a Christian Trump supporter would be lacking in the natural understanding of what evidence and facts actually are, not to mention their emotionally indoctrinated mental state. That is a lot of barrier to break through as a writer and I guess that normal people may think I am treating them like a child and be offended by the detailed simplicity.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. My two cents worth: I know I tend to write wordier comments than most people, which can be explained by circumstance rather than culture.

    (a) I have no awareness of the passage of time – absolutely none, so I don’t notice the difference between the time to read a hundred woods or a hundred pages. The same goes when composing a comment.

    (b) Both spoken and written communication contains a lot of information apart from the actual words used. Most people are not aware of how much information they convey other than in words. As an autistic, I can neither read this information nor use it. As a consequence I have ended up in some very unpleasant situations where my intentions have been misunderstood, even to the degree of being assaulted on several occasions. Such experience tend to make one very cautious when communicating.

    (c) I don’t think in words or pictures – It takes considerable effort to translate what’s in my head into words. A bit like the saying “A picture paints a thousand words”, what’s clear and concise in my head never turns out that way whether written or spoken. Translation to or from language is exhausting and imprecise.

    To give you some idea of how long it’s taken me to compose this comment, I worked on it for some time last night, then today I’ve timed how long it has taken me edit it so that I’m reasonably comfortable that it conveys what I mean. At some point further refining becomes unproductive. Today, this comment has taken me 2 hours 48 minutes..

    Liked by 3 people

    • In my experience, I haven’t found your comments to be overly verbose. Longer than some, yes, but not overdone. I realize some topics require more feedback/explanation than others — but in my personal blog wanderings, I’ve noticed some people really do have a problem with being succinct. 🙁

      BTW, I do understand there are special circumstances.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Hello Nan. I do not think it is cultural, but maybe partly educational as the good Professor suggested. IMO something need to be spelled out to be clear, that takes words what one thinks one has written my not be what the other person thinks they are reading. I also think paragraphs are important to show a change or shift in the subject / ideas written about. While I agree that a post or comment that continues until it becomes a word salad is eye glazing and loses viewers it is a subjective standard where the point of that is. Personally I do not mind a longer comment if it is written to be understood by a common person, but will stop reading a comment that is written with words out of main stream usage that I have to keep pausing to look up to understand what is being conveyed. Hugs

    Like

    • I agree in essence with everything you wrote … but especially this: a post or comment that continues until it becomes a word salad is eye glazing and loses viewers.

      Unfortunately, there are those who don’t seem to realize when they’ve reached this point.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hello Nan. The sad point is no one agrees what that point is. IMO it maybe due to education as Professor said, but that may not be, because one of the educated people who comments on your blog often manages to go on at such length or with $10 dollar words to the point that I lose track of the conversation or simply ignore the thread.

        Here is where my reply may slip into the overly long for some, maybe including you. We all do not have the same education nor experience. I have often admitted to being most self taught on a lot of subjects including grammar and I use the computer to spell and grammar check for me. So just as in this case I may have used more words or lengthened my reply to better made my self clear.

        How does one judge? How does one tell if they are being understood until they get a response to the comment? But at that point it is too late if the comment is too long as there is no undo or edit button. I am being serious as I am sure many blog hosts have grimaced at seeing a comment from me and some because it is too long.

        If the criteria is to make ones position understood at the average persons level, how do we judge when we went too far. Or is that simply for the blog host to determine after the comment is left? Hugs.

        Crap, maybe I reached or even went way past the point. Shoot! 😀😁😃🥰😍🤩 Hugs

        Like

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