Why Text Still Matters

Let us pause from reading self-help books for a minute and rejoice in the fact that we have books to read. More specifically, let us celebrate the virtues of text.

Imagine a world without text. Think of a society where the only way to share information, ideas, and stories is through audio or video.

I don’t want to live in that world.

Give me text. Let me see prose—words, sentences, paragraphs—that I can scan, skim, savor, review, and reread at will.

Of course, the spoken word is wonderful, and images are priceless. But they will never substitute for published text.

Do you ever get frustrated with bloggers who post audios or videos instead of writing? I can’t scan video or audio posts to decide if they’re worth my attention. I can’t skim subheadings to get the main points. I can’t slow down or speed up someone’s speaking, skip the irrelevant parts, or filter out the fluffy images.

Screw audio and video posts. Give me text.

Books may change form, but published text is here to stay as long as the human race survives. Text is a timeless tool for making sense of our world.

Text is the medium par excellence for developing, refining, and testing ideas. Speakers can dish out nonsense and get away with it. Politicians can utter non-sequiturs and still get elected. But writers of text don’t have those luxuries.

With text, the bar is set much higher. Why? Because bullshit is much more likely to be exposed when it sits frozen on a page, subject to scrutiny by readers who slow down to ask: What’s really being said here? And is it true?

Writers create text. It is their eternal privilege to work in the sacred medium of words.

And text will never die.

Image by bloohimwhom, Flickr Creative Commons


  1. Amen and amen, Doug. Although I have to say you creeped me out a bit by even having me imagine a world without text. Ugh.


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