What I’m going to be talking about in this post is how certain mediums, writing, audiobooks, music, and video are all better and worse suited for different types of content.
Hopefully, the main takeaway for the reader will be to help you think more about how to optimize any communication medium you use, including one that isn’t discussed here, and to think about the various ways you can convey an idea or emotion to another person.
Let me preface with a short tangent
I remember in high school and earlier teachers would frequently take a survey of the class as to what type of learner each person was.
There was auditory learners, visual learners, and learners that best absorbed information through actually practicing the subject.
Overtime, I noticed that the largest number of votes would always go towards the visual learner category.
The reason for this was always clear to me, people, (including myself) wanted to sit and watch YouTube videos during class instead of fill out worksheets or write papers.
The thing is though, watching YouTube videos is not always the best way to learn, and I would go so far as to say it’s typically a bad option.
I feel like I’m going against my 17 year old self by saying that, but if we’re all being honest that’s clearly the truth.
It doesn’t help me learn Science to watch a person go over a complex set of steps that took them five hours to complete in a 5 minute video, and it doesn’t truly teach me history to watch cartoon characters while a person reads a watered down film script version of historical events.
The medium is wrong.
Now, a few communication mediums and my thoughts on each one.
Video // I think video is currently the best way of talking to the masses. People online such as Vox Day say that we live in a post literate society. Therefor, to communicate with large swaths of people utilizing video is a good way to go.
I think video is a good way to introduce a concept to someone for the first time and to attempt at sparking a more prolonged interest in something.
An example is a documentary that acts as a call to action for viewers. The documentary itself may not get into the details about a topic but it acts as a way of showing people a problem in a very visual way for the first time and giving them the main bullet points.
I think documentary filmmakers aim at generating interest from the audience after they walk out of the theater not to solve a problem by making a video showing said problem.
I also think video is a great way to show someone what a particular activity is like. Maybe you can carry a camera with you for a day into a community you’re part of that others typically don’t get to experience and do some short on the fly interviews with people as well as filming people doing said activity.
This can easily get obnoxious with the way many vloggers approach it online but I think a good example of this being done in a tasteful way is Lamont Holt’s old videos about various skaters called A Walk In My Shoes.
I think video is an ok way to convey current events, 5/10
Music // I view music as the ultimate way to convey emotions. There’s so much more feeling that goes into music than goes into a video or book and in so much purer of a form.
Music is fragile, and the sound waves themselves need to hit the correct emotional beats for the listener to really understand the artist’s vision on any given track.
For this reason, the ability to convey more technical information is lacking when using the medium of music.
On the flip side, an artist relating to a certain emotion being felt throughout the population is a steller way to utilize the medium of music.
An example of this is the song Lonely by Justin Bieber. I heard this song on the radio while at work and marveled at how it was tapping into the feeling of loneliness many are experiencing due to social isolation from the lock downs as well as the unpleasant feeling of the government fucking your face whenever you don a mask to get your groceries.
Something else I think is important to mention, since you don’t need to listen to the lyrics to enjoy the emotion a song induces, a poisonous idea could be planted in your subconscious without you even realizing it.
Writing/Books // I think books are the best way to experience a complex story or to work towards becoming a subject matter expert in a certain field through studying.
If you are reading a story you are able to really get into the minds of the characters in a way you wouldn’t be able to through a video.
ex: You are watching a fight scene in a movie that goes by extremely fast, maybe a minute or two long. During this fight scene you see the characters punch and kick each other but don’t know any of the subtext behind the fight.
In a book, an author could jump from character to character and tell about their inner thoughts before and during the battle.
The closest thing to this in video form is in anime when there are repeated pauses, (sometimes called filler) from the fight where characters thoughts are played out in audio form.
If you are learning a subject, you’re going to have the ability to really soak in the information at your own pace when reading it in a way that watching a video about a particular topic wouldn’t allow you to do. You can even use a highlighter in a book to mark certain areas that you find really interesting if studying a subject. Not so much to go back later on but just to add an extra step in an effort to commit the information to memory.
One thing I think people overlook about the value of writing is that you’re taking away all the barriers to communicate with another person.
Writing is the easiest way to really communicate with someone as if your minds are speaking to each other without using words. There is no barriers such as the singing or the visual art being high quality enough to make a stranger want to consider what you have to say, its solely based on your skill at using the language itself.
I think writing is the best way to convey current events and if the news is being manipulated it’s the easiest way to see the manipulation.
Other mediums not discussed here but are relevant to mention- spoken word, Live plays, Braille, Other Languages/comparing the pros and cons of various languages, sign language, poetry not in song format, Public speaking, Live music.
Short story to end this post
I have been trying to get in the habit of frequently reading. Not sitting down for 5 hours any one day, but getting in the flow of reading a book in a week or two in multiple shorter sessions.
I’ve noticed that you get so much depth and detail from reading that my mind, which is accustomed to watching 10 minute YouTube videos, often gets overwhelmed after only 25 or so pages from the amount of content presented in both fiction and non-fiction books. When I say this I’m referring to both the visual imagery a fiction book puts in your mind as well as the amount of technical information a non-fiction book gives you.
Noticing this is what prompted this post and makes me know I need to continue to develop the habit of reading.
It scares me a little that my mind feels overwhelmed after such a small number of pages & if you read a book you’re interested in & have the same reaction, it should probably scare you too.