The Onion Reports: “Nation Shudders At Large Block Of Uninterrupted Text”

by | Mar 15, 2010 | Writing Matters Blog | 1 comment

Gloomy March weather getting you down? Tired of copyediting the same old technical report or web page? Take a laugh break and check out The Onion’s hard-hitting Science and Technology article: “Nation Shudders At Large Block Of Uninterrupted Text,” which describes readers’ distress at encountering an unscannable document:

Unable to rest their eyes on a colorful photograph or boldface heading that could be easily skimmed and forgotten about, Americans collectively recoiled Monday when confronted with a solid block of uninterrupted text.

Dumbfounded citizens from Maine to California gazed helplessly at the frightening chunk of print, unsure of what to do next. Without an illustration, chart, or embedded YouTube video to ease them in, millions were frozen in place, terrified by the sight of one long, unbroken string of English words.

The article includes reader reactions to the Large Block:

  • “Why won’t it just tell me what it’s about?” said Boston resident Charlyne Thomson … “There are no bullet points, no highlighted parts. I’ve looked everywhere—there’s nothing here but words.”
  • “It demands so much of my time and concentration,” said Chicago resident Dale Huza … “This large block of text, it expects me to figure everything out on my own, and I hate it.”

And yes, Charlyne and Dale are pretend readers, however strongly they resemble some real readers we’ve all had to cope with.

Need more Onion in your day? Check out “National Essay Writing Contest Now Accepting Video Submissions” and “Creative Writing Teacher Announces Plan To Sit On Edge Of Desk.”

— Leslie O’Flahavan

P.S. Many apologies if I am finding these pieces funnier than you are. I’ve been laughing at that last one for about 10 minutes. Of course, I do have a B.A. in Creative Writing, so I probably had that teacher in college.

Tags: Visual display, Writing

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the chuckle! The Onion really has a way of whittling down the zeitgeist so we can all laugh at ourselves (I hope). I don’t know why it isn’t one of my bookmarks!

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