I’m not dumb, and you’re not either.
But we are bombarded by a lot of information all the time, every day.
And it makes us act like we are dumb.
We skim articles.
We read only the headlines.
We look at the pictures.
We hardly ever make it to the fifth paragraph, let alone the end.
Admit it: I’ve just about lost your attention. You have three windows vying for your attention right now, two alerts from Outlook, and someone just commented on your Facebook status.
How on earth will I ever EVER get your attention? How will I ever EVER get you to stop long enough to think about a matter I think is life or death important?
Unless I’m a medicine recall or a flu epidemic or viral prank video.
Every day I see and share well-written articles about climate change that most people won’t even open.
The topic is too overwhelming.
The science is too complicated.
The articles are just too darn long.
Take this this well-written 900+ word article on climate change from Grist, for instance, in which David Roberts laments constantly being labeled alarmist.
I wish he had been more alarmist.
Because the most riveting sentence comes third to last.
“[Irreversible climate change] would mean handing our grandchildren and their grandchildren not only a burned, chaotic, denuded world, but a world that is inexorably more inhospitable with every passing decade.”
Denuded world. (Denuded, for crying out loud!)
No one I know made it that far down, though, because everyone is just too overwhelmed.
Too overwhelmed by the science.
Too overwhelmed by information.
Too overwhelmed by life.
That third-to-last should have been the opening sentence. And there should have been an illustration. Or an apocalypse filtered instagram collage. Or a viral prank video to accompany the article that would somehow get the message across to the Average Joe that
OUR CHILDREN ARE GOING TO BURN UP OR STARVE OR DROWN UNLESS WE DO SOMETHING ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE WHICH IS NOT JUST A TERM BUT A REAL LIVE CRISIS THAT YOU SHOULD STOP IGNORING AND START PAYING ATTENTION TO.
We need to dumb our messages down and then sexy them up.
We need to give folks the People magazine version of climate change.
The Honey Boo Boo version of climate change.
The Perez Hilton version of climate change.
There is no other way.
We need to speak to the dumbest listeners in the crowd…in our hippest of emergency voices.
Or else no one will listen.
Except members of the choir.
And I’m afraid, however, we need a lot more converts, not choir members, to make big changes in five years. To keep our children from burning.
So, if you care, please dumb it down.
Speak to the lowest common denominator.
Because we need everyone.
Not just the smarty pants alarmist members of the choir.