Three Insights on Modern Readers
Craving Originality, Disliking Ambiguity, and Struggling with Attention
This is my twenty-ninth day of writing an article every day. I’ve always regarded writing as a practice of self-understanding and discovery for the writer. However, after producing a substantial volume of work, one begins to gain insights into the world around them, including the personalities and mindsets of their readers.
Over time, these insights demonstrate an uncanny resemblance to the dialogue, discourse, customs, and practices prevalent in society.
Follow along to read some insights I’ve gained about the modern reader.
They crave originality.
Despite all the noise around them, readers still have a preference for original perspectives and voices. They don’t just want to know what’s happening, but rather what the writer thinks or feels about it.
And that seems fair. Why should someone read your work for information when they could simply Google it (or ask ChatGPT)?
Readers crave originality; they would love to read your writing if it couldn’t have been written by anyone else but you. They desire to hear a human voice as they navigate through the words. They want glimpses of emotion — excitement, curiosity, conflict, contemplation — anything that is unique.
And that keeps hope alive.
They dislike ambiguity.
An article is more likely to be read if the subject starts with ‘how,’ ‘why,’ or a quantity. For example, ‘Ten things to do when you’re feeling lazy’ will attract more readers than ‘The Art of Discipline’ for the same content.
This behavior is representative of the times. After exhausting hours at work or school, people expect clarity on the outcome before investing their time. They don’t want to read ‘The Art of Discipline’ without knowing what’s in it for them. ‘Ten things to do when you’re feeling lazy’ solves that problem for them.
The role of a writer has evolved: it is no longer about sowing ambiguity to enable readers to figure themselves out but about providing specific answers. And that can make it a bit boring.
They struggle with maintaining attention.
Have you ever felt the newfound need to take a ‘break’ after every two pages or even paragraphs? You’re not alone.
The average read ratio for my articles should be around fifty-five percent. That means out of every hundred people who start reading my articles, only around fifty-five complete them. Initially, I thought that would be sub-optimal. I was wrong.
A read ratio of twenty percent on Medium is considered ‘good.’ Now, that may be influenced by article length and reading time. Nevertheless.
Twenty percent, seriously? Just think about it, a majority of readers are unable to finish a standard article that takes a maximum of ten minutes.
The culprits? Instagram notifications, LinkedIn messages, YouTube suggestions, WhatsApp texts — anything that can trigger a rush of hormones within seconds.
Interestingly, most people I’ve interacted with are aware of this phenomenon. Sometimes they would read a page from a book, check Instagram for two minutes, and then return to reading.
It’s not that people want to be distracted, but rather that they find it difficult to resist.
I understand that I have only begun to comprehend this often inscrutable class of readers. However, readers are as accurate a reflection of human society as can be, and understanding them leads to a greater understanding of humankind. It’s an exciting prospect.
Anyways, thank you for reading. Please continue to support my read ratio.