More about sounding like a human

I’ve written a lot in the past about how hard it is to actually write and sound like a human.

Seth Godin has a great example, and quoting his conclusion:

People don’t write like bureaucrats because it’s easy or fun. They do it because of the mistaken belief that it lets them off the hook.

That’s part of it, and in many cases switching to a mechanical, overly formal style is a way to absolve oneself of responsibility.

But the other side of is that schools beat the vernacular out of us. The more you obfuscate, the more commas you use, the higher your grade. The other extreme is the way people write in social media comments with an incredibly limited vocabulary, more typos than properly spelled words, and nary a fleshed out argument in sight.

There’s something in the middle, which is how I try to write. Complex words and sentences are fine, as long as they are precisely what you need to convey your message. Clarity is the goal, with brevity and simplicity tools that often, but not always, that support clarity.