In this day and age, our attention spans are short. As such, media began developing a sickness in the last 10 or so years. Camera shots are faster, speech is faster, and no one takes a breath. I began to really notice this issue with podcasts. The hosts would start speaking and there was never a break in speech. A sentence would end, and another one would begin, without the natural pause in between, as we hear speech in the real world.
It really began to bother me. I was struggling to comprehend what I was hearing. The natural process of listening and learning was being interrupted because I could not “focus” on one sentence before having to pay attention to a new one.
This kind of over-editing was also beginning to emerge in the youtube community. Instead of taking a few moments to rehearse, Youtubers would rely on “the jump cut”, in which the camera position does not change, and string sentences together. So. “I went- to the store- I bought milk- I tripped- the milk- spilled” would all run together and the shot would constantly “jump.”
A jump cut is meant to be a last resort. When there is absolutely no other option, then you use it. But now, the youtube culture has relied on this technique and as a result, speech is often not having its natural pause in between complete thoughts.
Yes, you don’t want “dead air”, but it is perfectly fine to breathe, and let us see you breathe. Sarah Werner, a contribute to FORBES, wrote about the lack of silence in podcasts. In part, she says:
“One kind listener finally emailed me in 2015 and very gently let me know that my show sounded like one massive, 30-minute long run-on sentence. He told me that it was okay to pause and breath —- and even encouraged, as it presents a more natural cadence and allocates time for your words to sink into your listeners’ brains.”
I was overjoyed when I found this article because it described exactly what I was experiencing. I will be upfront and say, I did experience some medical emergencies as a child and they could very well be impacting how I see and hear the world. But, Sarah’s article helped me see that while I may experience this to a stronger degree, others experience it too.
So, This is a PSA: If you have a podcast or if you are a youtuber, do not edit out every single pause or use the jump cut when making a video to string sentences together. There are listeners and viewers struggling to focus and understand your content.
I have not seen any literature on this subject, other than Sarah’s article. So, I too wanted to add my voice to the discussion.
While no one wants you to drone on for twenty minutes, we also don’t want your twenty minutes to be edited as such so everything you’re communicating can be heard in 5. Take a breath. Leave it in.
Over the past several months, I have attempted to diplomatically express my opinion on this matter. The two reactions I’ve experienced were either no reaction at all or strong resistance, one instance even resulting in my content being mocked and being belittled. But that is a story for another day.
Did you get all that? It’s a visual representation of what I hear with the over-editing I am coming across a ton in either video or audio. It is a sickness media is facing and we need to try to fix it.