“TL;DR”

by david

I don’t have the evenest of tempers, but I’m a fairly calm guy. Very few things get instant, heated reactions from me. Of them, almost none is more guaranteed than the comment-section staple “TL;DR” (Too long; didn’t read).

There’s all sort of reasons I hate TL;DR. TL;DR is the monogram on the breastpocket of our stupid, self-obsessed, anti-intellectual contemporary culture. TL;DR is a filibuster. TL;DR is the tantrum cry of a bored child breaking your stuff because he isn’t happy, doesn’t know why, and needs to turn all eyes on himself since he can’t solve his own problem. TL;DR is a rubber band shot from the back of the room by a bully.

TL;DR is the comment section equivalent of driving past an ugly house and stopping to spray paint “UGLY HOUSE” on it. If you do that, you’re a turd, who had to make something that isn’t about you about you and your precious little kneejerk judgement.

It’s ugly? Maybe it’s just not your style. Maybe someone put some time into that, and there’s a functional element of that ugliness that is actually really awesome. Maybe you have bad taste (if you are a TL;DR’r, you probably do). They didn’t kidnap you and bring you to their house to admire it. They didn’t come to your house and critique it. You don’t like it? Keep driving, turd.

Now, maybe, it’s a spectacularly ugly house, and you think you can help them make it better. Here, the metaphor breaks down: keep driving anyway. There’s no nice way to do what you’re thinking about doing, if it’s actually a house. They don’t care what you think. But in the non-metaphorical world, if someone’s blog post or magazine article or online art raises your ire and you have something real to say about it, by all means, say it. But don’t not read it because of its word count, and then pass judgement. THEY KNOW IT’S LONG. And you’re a turd.

Listen, turd. Some things are long. Some things are too long. Some things are long because they’re complicated and require it. Some things are long because the writer is a moron who likes to hear himself talk. Some things are long because they’re f*cking beautiful that way and others are long because they were written by people whose native language is spreadsheet and they dump every detail on you.

The only way to know is to start. And if you read enough, you’ll know pretty quickly. And maybe you’ll have something intelligent to say. Or maybe you’ll think “this is a waste of my time” and then you’re free to click away and look at something short, like an animated gif of a reality TV star getting kicked in the nuts.

TL;DR is unnecessary and snide. If something’s too long, and you actually care, explain why it’s too long. Be an editor. Engage. Otherwise, heed the wisdom of another, better staple of our contemporary culture: STFU.

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