I’ve noticed something lately about myself and I’m wondering if it’s a Silicon Valley thing or a generational thing. Basically, when it comes to communication that’s designed to convey information (i.e., not just sittin’ around shootin’ the shit or telling a good story) I get really annoyed by extraneous information. I want to get the info and get on with what I’m doing.
Example: One of my favorite info-oriented podcasts has become plagued by the verbal equivalent of the “me too!” post. The hosts are constantly repeating themselves and each other and you’ll get exchanges along these lines:
“We have some really great interviews this week.”
“That’s right, they’re just amazing!”
Now, All that was really necessary was the first sentence (although an argument could be made that even the first sentence is just filler; I can judge the quality of the interviews just fine myself, thankyouverymuch), but there was a bunch of extra verbiage wedged in there. If the podcast in question is not a storytelling podcast or a “listen to these two people banter at each other” podcast (and the ones I listen to aren’t), I don’t want to hear all this pointless chatter! I want the information!
At first I figured this was a Silicon Valley thing – the podcasts that suffer from this the most are from non-SV people, and are put together by amateurs.
But then I realized that many of the people I talk to who are a minimum of 30 years older than me do the same basic thing. I wind up listening to detailed information about people I have never met and probably never will meet. The simplest informational exchange turns into an epic. Conversations that would take 30 seconds with one of my age peers take five minutes. So maybe it’s an age thing — but the podcasters I’m thinking of aren’t that old. They’re only 10 years older than me or so.
So what’s the story here? Do I come from a generation of impatient people? I know I’m not the only one my age who is a fan of efficient conversation. What makes it tricky is that there is no polite way to say “Um, could you get to the point please?” because that’s rude. I am aware that it’s rude. I’m working on slowing down when I talk to people who are inclined to give me gratuitous amounts of detail. I’m working on listening instead of only half-listening and musing about this whole communication issue.
With podcasts, it’s a lot easier. I can just delete ’em.
With storytelling, I don’t mind longwindedness. I like to hear the details of a good yarn over a bottle of wine or a good meal or whatever. I love reading Dumas, who is the master of longwindedness (who else would have a character say “I believe we are about to have the honor to charge you” ?). I even dig it when coworkers stop by my cube to chat, provided I’m not up to my ears in work (which doesn’t happen too often as my work isn’t generally time-sensitive).
But for gods’ sake, when I’m in the middle of something else or when I’m listening to an informational podcast while driving, I do not want to hear a bajillion extraneous details. I want to hear the information. Time is valuable, isn’t it?
OK, I’m rambling, so I’m going to wrap this up. I’d love to hear what any readers have to say on the subject.