I tried to get my mom into Breaking Bad over the recent Christmas holidays.
This incredible television series – five excellent seasons long – chronicles the tribulations of Walter White, your average middle-aged high school chemistry teacher who breaks bad and becomes a illegal methamphetamine drug kingpin. It’s required viewing for any fan of great television, great acting, or great writing.
But, according to my mom,
“It just takes to long to get started!”
–Mom, in classic mom voice, December 2015.
A little bit of context: I forced her to sit down with me to watch the first two episodes (I had been keen to rewatch the series after its Facebook page posted a “which Breaking Bad character are you?” quiz), and she appeared to be unmoved by the whole concept.
Mom: It seems interesting, but the characters are boring and nothing has happened.
Me: What?? The characters are the best part. SO much happens!
Mom: Well I’m bored, we should watch something else.
Me: I don’t get you. This is the best series ever, it has such a high rating on IMDB—
Mom: The neighbours will be over soon, could you set the table? Where did I put the poinsetta…
As you can see, my mom’s attention span (like any modern consumer of new-age blog-style media) is extremely thin. She’s a busy journeywoman with a lot on the go, so if something isn’t interesting right away, it’s not worth her time.
The Inverted Pyramid communication style online caters to the impatience of modern mom-like™ social media consumers: they are rarely willing to offer up their time to navigate their way through a dense editorial piece with a lengthy analogous intro (of which I am certainly guilty of at this very moment).
They want the juicy bits right away; they want to be hooked in to whatever their reading and they’re satisfied with having the additional details explored later. Otherwise? They’d rather prep the house for a neighbourhood dinner.
Back to Breaking Bad: what I eventually realized in my mom-conundrum is that I had already seen the entire series before – I had the big plot points stored in my memory bank, with the details slightly blurred. In essence, my memory of the entire show was compiled in an Inverted Pyramid in my brain.
But for Mrs. Donaldson, the busy high matriarch of my Donaldson family, the long narrative and expositional details of the first two episodes of a 62 episode series weren’t explosive enough to reel her in immediately.
Ultimately, an epic, Emmy Award winning TV series isn’t like a blog post: a) because there’s no award shows for blogs and b) because no one reading your blog has time for the flowery exposition. In effective social media communication, you must wow your readers from the get-go and then – if they’re interest is maintained – you can saturate them in details afterward.
Thus, your post should be structured like a trailer rather than a series.
EDIT: Am I a hypocrite for advocating the Inverted Pyramid approach to blogging without actually practicing it in my post? Perhaps. But some blog topics, particularly reflective editorial ones, benefit from the Hourglass model of writing.