Wait! Don’t Forward that Article!

Writing is hard. I am writing well even harder.
Forwarding an article is much simpler than writing one.
Forwarding articles – or “content” as it is now called – is commonplace on LinkedIn. Every day LinkedIn members must endure a seeming barrage of forwarded articles from their connections.
Surprisingly, most of this content comes across without any comment from the forwarder. No context, no summary, and no highlight. Nothing! Just more zeros and ones to the seemingly endless torrent of digital updates.
Two things at play here.
First, most writers and readers know a good title is golden. The correct title will capture the reader’s interest. When it comes to books and movies, the title is money. So, I understand when seeing a provocative title, people want to forward it.
But what follows many of these eye-catching titles is thinly veiled shilling for brands, products, and services. Plus, with many internet publishers emphasizing readability with lots of “white space” and the use of lists and headings in the body of the article, there is little (if any) journalistic meat on the bone to many of these items. Many 300-500 word articles can be boiled down to one idea— a simple sentence.
So why don’t these drive-by forwarders highlight the one critical point in the article? He answers is not that they can’t write. T he more parsimonious explanation is that they most likely haven’t even read the article. Hey got sucker-punched by the title themselves and, in their eagerness to “build their brand,” right-clicked and let it fly!
This brings us to the second thing at play here. General thoughtless is pervasive on the internet. Peed, it seems, trumps just about everything else these days. Early everywhere you look online is evidence that businesses and people simply aren’t thinking very deeply about what they are doing there.
Products should have clear and compelling value propositions. Ich expensive-to-build websites should be easy to find on Google and Bing. Mail campaigns should be grounded in exciting offers with clear calls to action.  ebsites and emails should be mobile responsive (viewable on a smartphone). Hy, don’t all businesses embrace and deploy these well-established best practices?  ecause all those things involve strategy.  ffective strategies require deep thought and creativity. Oh, it requires long stretches of uninterrupted time. Does a nyone remember the free time?
On the personal side, far more egregious examples of thoughtlessness can be found.  eyond the incomplete or inaccurate LinkedIn profiles is the utter lack of discretion and restraint almost everywhere.  Across the internet, people regularly post misspelled, emotionally charged, and ill-thought-out retorts to all matters of discussion, political, religious, and even sexual.
Don’t these people know that everything lives forever on a server somewhere when it comes to the internet?  f course, they don’t. Hat would involve some thought.  hought would need time.  ninterrupted time.  ime to pause, time to think, and time to reply appropriately.
The advocacy here is for two things.  irst, think before you act – both on the internet and in life. His is solid advice going back to Socrates and Plato.
And second, read the damn article before you send it. W hen you do, include a line about why anyone should care about it.
If you want to add value to your connections – write something original.  r, better yet, don’t send anything at all.
Image: ©iStockphoto.com/StalkerJ

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