Consuming Words

According to a new report, the average American consumes 34 gigabytes and 100,000 words over the course of about 12 hours every day. Nearly half of that time is spent watching television; about a quarter on the computer; and the rest on radio, print media, telephones, computer games, recorded music, movies and other sources. Maybe those average Americans need to go on a word diet. Many of those words are superfluous. (If you consider the inanity of most television shows, radio programs, newspaper and magazine articles, music lyrics, movie scripts, telephone calls, and blog posts — this one included — perhaps most words are superfluous, but for the purposes of this article, I will pretend that word gluttony adds meaning to your life and hence has some value.)

For example: In this headline, the removal of one word would cut down word consumption (of this particular phrase anyway) by 20%: Nursing Student Mysteriously Vanishes. Um . . . yeah. Seems as if “vanishing” implies mysterious. Have you ever heard of a vanishing that wasn’t mysterious? Unless the nursing student had planned to vanish, called all her friends together, and said, “Good-bye. I’m going to vanish now.” Still, that in itself would be mysterious. How would she do it, and more importantly, why?

Or what about this headline: Imagine how ‘revolted’ he must have felt when daughter Erin Andrews told him what happened between sobs. I guess it’s more of a blurb than a headline, still, there are superfluous words here. Perhaps “between sobs.” Perhaps “revolted.” At the very least, there is a comma missing. Truly, what could happen between sobs? There isn’t much time to do anything between sobs except perhaps take a breath.

And speaking of consuming words — I took the total number of comments people left for my Blogmania giveaway, went to random.org and had them pick a number. The winner was the person who left the 177th comment — Wanda Hughes. Lucky Wanda will be consuming a great number of words — there are about 88,000 in Daughter Am I, though I did put it on a diet and got rid of at least 5,000 superfluous words during the final editing. Happy consumption, Wanda!

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3 Responses to “Consuming Words”

  1. Carol J. Garvin Says:

    Congratulations to Wanda Hughes! 🙂

    It’s hard to think of consuming words as a negative thing. Granted, in our writing we strive to eliminate superfluous ones, but consuming words to me is like consuming food — I try to choose books and programs and meals that will nourish body and mind; I feel enriched by that consumption.

    Maybe we just need to be more aware of our choices in literature, drama, movies, blog reading, etc. I used to tell my children that what they put into their minds would govern how they thought about life and living, so they should be careful about what they watched and read.

  2. joylene Says:

    Bravo, Wanda. Great post, Pat. I’m full of consuming words. I think it’s another reason why I hate to talk on the phone. I’m unable to edit myself. Have an awesomely serene day in the sun. How’s that for wasted words?

  3. knightofswords Says:

    A lot of those words are junk words filled with bad cholesterol, unnecessary salt and empty calories.


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