July 7th, 2018

(no subject)

My mind keeps returning to the simple and uninteresting thought — which is probably generalizable, and perhaps has many times been expressed in its generalized form (similar to how Pinker divided academic writing style into a classical and a postmodernist variant) — that social media highlight two different kinds of writing (or, perhaps, better to say, two extremes of a writing spectrum).

One kind is writing for in-group or, in its extreme, for oneself. Writing whose sole purpose is to amuse the writer. Writing that doesn’t really care about the readers (if they understand it, fine; if they don't, no biggie). Writing that does not in any special way engage with the reader. Writing that is, dare I say it, self-sufficient.

The other kind is writing for others. Manifestly for others. Like, no doubt about it. Writing that craves attention. Writing that bears various marks of engaging with the reader (an obvious one is addressing the reader directly, using second-person pronouns). Writing that questions the readers or in any other way nudges them to respond.

In the Russian social media, this second kind of writing also manifests in providing translations from other languages into Russian. The writer obviously doesn’t need the translation (he can understand the original), but he thinks that his readers might, and so he takes time to translate the passages for his readers.

Personally, I do not like this second, extroverted kind of writing. It bothers me in a way I cannot properly explain. It often feels as if the writer is trying too hard; it lacks the spontaneity, intimacy, carelessness and ease of the first kind of writing, and also has a taint of attention-seeking.